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)

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) voted at its October meeting to recommend that all pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis. The recommendation calls for the vaccination of all pregnant women regardless of whether they have received Tdap in the past. The ACIP also recommends that any women who are not immunized during pregnancy be given the vaccine immediately postpartum, before they leave the hospital or birthing center.


An AAP Technical Report, Immunizing Parents and Other Close Family Contacts in the Pediatric Office, discusses benefits and barriers to immunizing family members in the pediatric office, in order to protect infants and young children against disease. Education on cocooning is also available.


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: 5/23/2013

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