The Disease

If you've ever seen a child with pertussis you, won't forget it. The child coughs violently, over and over, until the air is gone from his lungs and he is forced to inhale with the loud "whooping" sound that gives the disease its nickname, Whooping Cough. These severe coughing spells can go on for weeks. The child might turn blue from lack of air, or vomit after a coughing spell. A child with Whooping Cough can have difficulty eating, drinking, or even breathing.


The Immunization

The first pertussis vaccine was developed in the 1930's, and became widely used by the 1940's. In the early 1990's a new "acellular" pertussis vaccine was licensed (DTaP), which works well but has fewer side effects.


In 2006, a second pertussis vaccine, Tdap, was added to the schedule for adolescents. It is recommended that adolescents receive this vaccine instead of Td so that they continue to be protected against Whooping Cough. Adults should also receive a dose of Tdap in place of one Td booster.


Immunizing Parents (Cocooning)

Visit the AAP Cocooning page to learn more about immunizing family members to protect infants to young to be vaccinated.


The Schedule for DTaP and Tdap

DTaP should be admistered to children through age 6. Starting at age 7, children, adolescents and adults should receive Tdap.


AAP Vaccine Recommendations


CDC Recommendations for Pregnant Women


Quick Facts - What You Need to Know (PDF)

  • Why get vaccinated?

  • Who should get DTaP vaccine and when?

  • Some people should not get DTaP vaccine or should waitlts

  • What are the risks from DTaP vaccine?

  • What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?


Other Resources


Last Updated: 5/8/2014

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