Whooping cough is a lung infection caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It is called whooping cough because of the whooping sound of the sick person’s breathing after a series of coughs. It is also called pertussis.
Although teens can get very ill with the disease, they almost always recover. However, whooping cough is a very serious illness for babies. Babies are better protected against this infection if teens and adults, as well as babies, have been vaccinated.
Babies who get all of the routine immunizations get vaccines that protect against whooping cough as well as tetanus and diphtheria. A vaccine called Tdap has been developed for teens. It also helps to prevent pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria. When teens get the vaccine, they are less likely to get whooping cough and less likely to infect others who have not been immunized. The vaccine is very safe.
The Tdap vaccine should be routinely given at age 11 to 12 years. Teens between 13 and 18 years of age who have not had the Tdap shot yet should get a Tdap shot.