Whooping Cough is on the Rise

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is on the rise.  Whooping cough can kill infants who are too young to have received all of their pertussis vaccine doses. Infants and young children routinely receive a vaccine called DTaP. The letters stand for diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis.  

Adults who received vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis many years ago have weakened immunity. Immunity to pertussis wears off over time, like vaccine protection against tetanus. Boosters are necessary. When adults get pertussis, they may have a lingering cough or carry the bacteria that cause pertussis without getting sick. So both adults with symptoms and those who seem well can spread pertussis. To fight the spread of pertussis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health departments nationwide are urging adults to get tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap). Adults who come in contact with infants and young children should be first in line to get the adult-type vaccine. National experts recommend Tdap vaccine for everyone without medical contraindications over 11 years of age.  

 Significant reactions to Tdap vaccines are uncommon. Some people may have a little soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given. You can check your need for recommended vaccines on the CDC website. Use the Adolescent and Adult Vaccine Quiz. Go to CDC Vaccines web page for more information and to take the quiz. 

Remember that pertussis can kill infants. Adults infect infants who are too young to have completed their pertusis vaccine series. Immunity from the routine doses of pertussis vaccine given in early childhood wears off over time. All adults need a booster vaccine. See Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, available at https://shop.aap.org/ or search www.healthychildren.org for more information. In PA, please send your health and safety request with your name and phone number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. - Reviewed and reaffirmed 4/2019