Through July 2010, several states have reported an increase in cases and/or localized outbreaks of pertussis, including a state-wide epidemic in California. Localized outbreaks are not uncommon and occur throughout the year. Over the last 5 years, 8,000-25,000 cases of pertussis were reported per year in the United States. Everyone should make sure they are up to date with pertussis vaccinations — DTaP vaccine for infants and children and Tdap booster for adolescents and adults.

Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.

Who Should Get Vaccinated

You can protect your family by getting yourself vaccinated or by getting a booster shot. Since babies most often catch whooping cough from a family member, the following people should make sure they’re up to date on their whooping cough vaccinations:

  • Children and adolescents, especially:
    • Children less than 7 years old—they should see their pediatrician to get their childhood vaccinations.
    • Children ages 7 to 10 who have not received or completed their childhood vaccination series.
    • Children 11 years and older who haven’t had their regularly scheduled Tdap booster shot.
  • All mothers, fathers, caregivers, and people living with newborns and infants, especially those younger than 6 months old.
    • Caregivers and people living with newborns include all persons who are ages 7 or older as recommended by the California Department of Public Health during the current pertussis epidemic.
  • Pregnant women in their second and third trimester.
  • Women who plan to become pregnant.
  • All healthcare workers.

See more about vaccination requirement in Virginia Public Schools, click here.

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