Pertussis or Whooping Cough Booster (Tdap Vaccine)

Experts estimate that up to one million cases of Pertussis (or whooping cough) occur each year in the United States, across all age groups.


  • Whooping cough is a serious infectious disease on the rise in the United States, across all age groups. According to the CDC, there were about 42,000 confirmed cases of whooping cough in 2012, the highest total since 1955. Of the 18 recorded whooping cough deaths in 2012, all but three were infants under the age of 1.
  • Whooping cough can be spread before symptoms appear.
  • Whooping cough can be tough to diagnose because early symptoms may appear like a cold or bronchitis. The classic symptom is a “whoop” – the sound of someone gasping for breath during a bad coughing spell. But you can have the infection without the “whoop.”
  • Whooping cough causes coughing spells that can affect breathing, eating, and sleeping. It can even lead to cracked ribs and hospitalization.
  • Protection against whooping cough from early childhood vaccines wears off. Adults and adolescents who have not received a booster vaccine are at risk for infection.
  • Adults and adolescents can spread whooping cough to infants who have not had all their vaccines. Babies are at greatest risk for serious complications, even death.

Two new booster vaccines for whooping cough are now available. One can be used for adults and adolescents. The other has been approved for adolescents only. Protection against whooping cough does not last forever. The vaccination you received as a child wears off. Adults and adolescents should receive the new whooping cough booster vaccine.

Blue Fish recommends that adults and adolescents receive a Tdap (this is instead of the previously recommended tetanus-diphtheria (Td shot) booster vaccine to protect against whooping cough. It is especially important for those in contact with infants younger than 6 months of age. Tdap can be administered regardless of when Td was last received.  Tdap was first available in the United States in 2005.  Ideally, Tdap should be given two weeks before beginning close contact with an infant.  Blue Fish offers the vaccine to all Blue Fish adolescent patients.  Parents should receive their booster from their primary care physician or local pharmacy as soon as possible.

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