The pertussis vaccine is administered to prevent whooping cough and reduce related illness and death. There is a version of the vaccine available for children up to age 7; a version for adolescents and adults is also available. The children's vaccine is part of a routine series of childhood immunizations called DTaP. It is administered in five doses, and all five doses are recommended for maximum protection.
What Is the Pertussis Vaccine?
While there is no lifelong protection against pertussis (also known as whooping cough), immunization by vaccine is the best pertussis prevention available. Vaccines currently licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent the disease and reduce related illness and death are available for children up to age 7, as well as for adolescents and adults.
The children's pertussis vaccine is part of a routine series of childhood immunizations called DTaP (diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine). It is administered in five doses, given at 2, 4, 6, and 15 to 18 months of age, and between four and six years of age. All five doses are recommended for maximum protection.
There is also a DT vaccine available for children who cannot tolerate the pertussis component.
(Click DTaP for more information on this vaccine.)
Adolescents and Adults
The adolescent and adult vaccines have the same components as the DTaP vaccine for infants and young children, but with a reduced dosage of the diphtheria and pertussis components. This vaccine is known as the Tdap and is available under the following names:
The lowercase letters in the Tdap indicate that this vaccine has a reduced dosage of the diphtheria and pertussis components, compared with the DTaP.