Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

  • Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe. A deep "whooping" sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath. It is a serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants, and even death.

    Whooping cough can affect people of any age. Before vaccines were widely available, the disease was most common in infants and young children. Now that most children are immunized before entering school, the higher percentage of cases is seen among adolescents and adults. Infants too young to be immunized are at the greatest risk from pertussis.

    King County received 100 reports of confirmed pertussis between 1/1/12-3/31/12, more than the 98 reports received in all of 2011. Vaccinating eligible children and adults is the best way to prevent this disease.

    Tdap is required for children entering 6th grade.

    Additionally, all eligible children and adults should be vaccinated against pertussis.

    A single dose of Tdap is recommended for:

    • Children 7-10 years who are not fully vaccinated against pertussis.

    • Adolescents 11-18 years who have completed the DTP/DTaP series.

    • All adults aged 19 years and older (especially those who have or anticipate having close contact with infants less than 12 months old). Tdap vaccine for adults is available from healthcare providers and from area pharmacies.

    • Pregnant and post-partum women. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that pregnant women who have not already received a Tdap booster should be vaccinated during pregnancy, preferably during the third trimester or late second trimester (after 20 weeks gestation).