Diseases that can be prevented - Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

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Whooping cough (pertussis) spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. Vaccination is necessary to stop or slow its spread of the disease. The whooping cough vaccine is the best protection for yourself, your family, and especially small babies, who can develop serious complications from this disease.

There are confirmed cases of whooping cough in our state. Pregnant women and babies are most at risk – talk to your healthcare provider about how to get your whooping cough shot.



Infants with whooping cough may have trouble feeding and breathing and may turn bluish. Many infants are unable to even cough. The disease is most serious in infants, especially those not fully protected or too young to get the vaccine.

Babies and young kids:

Babies older than six months and kids with whooping cough can have severe coughing spells that make it hard to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep. At this age, the cough is often followed by a "whooping" sound, which is how the disease got its common name. Kids may also vomit after a long coughing spell. Whooping cough can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death. Babies with whooping cough are often hospitalized.

Older kids and adults:

With older kids and adults, the disease can be quite mild or can cause several weeks of exhausting coughing. Babies usually get whooping cough from caregivers or family members who don't realize they have the disease, like older brothers and sisters, parents, and grandparents. Research shows that it's most common for moms to pass on the disease to babies.

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Vaccine Information

About the Vaccine

DTaP vaccine

  • Kids aged younger than 7 years

Tdap vaccine

  • Kids aged 7 to 10 years who are not fully vaccinated against whooping cough
  • Adolescents aged 11 to 18 years (preferably at 11 or 12 years of age)
  • Pregnant women as early as possible between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation (third trimester)

How to Protect Infants and Young Kids

The best way adults can protect infants and young kids from whooping cough is to make sure they're up to date on their own whooping cough vaccine, called Tdap. Pregnant women also should get a whooping cough shot during every pregnancy, as early as possible between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation.

Anyone with a persistent cough, especially if it includes fits of coughing or causes vomiting, should seek medical care. All pre-teens, teens, and adults should make sure they are up to date on whooping cough vaccine, including the Tdap booster dose. Pregnant women should get Tdap during every pregnancy. The vaccine can help stop the spread of the disease to babies.

Anyone with a cough should avoid being around infants. Not all coughs are whooping cough, but without testing, it's better to avoid the possible spread. If it's not possible to avoid being around infants, cough into a tissue, then wash your hands thoroughly, or wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of bacteria.

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Related Whooping Cough Information

Department of Health

Whooping Cough in Washington

Notifiable Conditions: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Whooping Cough Flyer for Pregnant Women (Public Health--Seattle & King County)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pregnancy and Whooping Cough

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Sounds of Pertussis

Educational campaign and public service effort to educate new parents about pertussis and vaccines

Vaccine Information Statements

There is no separate Vaccine Information Statement for combination vaccines.

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Multiple Vaccines (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

For patients getting Pediarix, please review the Vaccine Information Statements for DTaP, Hepatitis B, and IPV

Td (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Tdap (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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