What is the recommended vaccination protocol against pertussis (whooping cough)?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Vaccination is now recommended with acellular pertussis vaccine plus diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DTaP) at the ages of 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months and at age 4-6 years. A booster with Tdap (DTaP is not recommended for children aged 7 years or older) is recommended instead of 1 diphtheria-tetanus toxoid (Td) booster from age 19 years and up. Ideally, Tdap is recommended before pregnancy, but it may be given during pregnancy after 20 weeks’ gestation. [36] Additionally, the CDC recommends that all adults receive 1 dose of Tdap in order to decrease pertussis transmission in children.

After immunization, fever is reported in 3-5% of patients, persistent crying in 12 patients per 100,000, febrile seizures in 5 patients per 100,000, afebrile seizure in 2 patients per 100,000, and hyporesponsive episodes in 5 patients per 100,000. Severe neurologic sequelae have not been reported. This is about the same as it is for Td alone.

A study by McNamara et al that included 9801 pertussis patients 3 months of age and older reported a 60% reduction in odds of severe disease in children 7 months to 6 years of age when they received the recommended pertussis vaccine. The study also found a 30% reduction in posttussive vomiting in children and adult patients who received the age-appropriate vaccine. [37]

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