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Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly contagious disease that causes uncontrollable coughing. The coughing may be so severe that it causes choking spells or vomiting. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is more common in infants and children. It's especially dangerous in infants. The coughing spells can be so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink or breathe. 

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Children 6 years of age and younger are routinely vaccinated against whooping cough. But, protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Older children, adolescents, and adults need protection from this disease, too. A booster dose of the vaccine is recommended for anyone between the ages of 11 and 64 years, who have not previously received one.

Because infants cannot be fully vaccinated until after their first birthday, they are the most vulnerable age group. It is up to those that live with or care for an infant to ensure that they themselves are protected from whooping cough. Healthcare providers highly encourage vaccination for the following individuals: 

• Parents, grandparents, siblings, other household contacts, and childcare workers who are in contact with infants under 1 year of age
• New mothers who have never received the vaccine
• Healthcare workers who are in direct contact with patients


Center for Disease Control & Prevention
Department of Health & Human Services
National Institutes of Health

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