The best way to prevent whooping cough is with the pertussis vaccine, which doctors often give in combination with vaccines against two other serious diseases — diphtheria and tetanus. Doctors recommend beginning vaccination during infancy.

The vaccine consists of a series of five injections, typically given to children at these ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 to 18 months
  • 4 to 6 years

Vaccine side effects

Side effects of the vaccine may include fever, crankiness or soreness at the site of the injection. In rare cases, severe side effects may occur, including:

  • Persistent crying, lasting more than three hours
  • High fever
  • Seizures, shock or coma

Booster shots

  • Adolescents. Because immunity from the pertussis vaccine tends to wane by age 11, doctors recommend a booster shot at that age to protect against whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria and tetanus.
  • Adults. Some varieties of the every-10-year tetanus and diphtheria vaccine also include protection against whooping cough (pertussis). In addition to protecting you against whooping cough, this vaccine will also reduce the risk of your transmitting whooping cough to infants.
  • Pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that pregnant women receive the pertussis vaccine between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. This may also give some protection to the infant during the first few months of life.
Mar. 19, 2013

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