Vaccination against whooping cough (pertussis) is now advised for all adolescents and adults in contact with very young children. A combined pertussis-tetanus-diphtheria vaccine is available for this purpose.
Whooping cough in adults is often mild but can cause a persistent cough, frequently lasting months. However it can be very serious in babies and infants and may lead to pneumonia, seizures (fits), brain damage and death. Teenagers and adults often pass the infection to young babies who are not yet fully vaccinated and immunisation will help to prevent this.
Who should be vaccinated?
Whooping cough vaccination is recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council for all children at 2, 4, 6 months and 4 years.
However, childhood vaccination does not provide long-term protection, so a single booster is now advised for:
- All adolescents at 15 to 17 years.
- Women (and their partners) planning pregnancy or both parents immediately after the birth.
- Adults working with young children, especially healthcare and childcare workers in contact with the youngest infants, e.g. maternity and nursery staff.
- Any adult wishing to be vaccinated, such as grandparents.
Open wide: Vaccination in the old days!
Is the vaccine safe?
The vaccine is well tolerated but can cause redness, swelling and pain at the injection site and fever and tiredness. Serious reactions are rare.
Whooping cough vaccine is provided free for children and adolescents aged 15-17. Adults will require a private script and may claim a rebate from health funds.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.