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Published on January 04, 2017. Last modified on December 02, 2019

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated.  In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP.  This is aDoctor, nurse, mom and newborn baby in hospital room safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.  For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots.  The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.  The fourth shot is given between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4–6 years of age.  Pregnant mothers who get vaccinated in the third trimester of pregnancy can produce protective antibodies against pertussis that will be passed on to their baby.  The baby then has some protection against pertussis until he/she is old enough to get vaccinated.

Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can fade with time.  Before 2005, the only booster available contained tetanus and diphtheria (called Td), and was recommended for adolescents and adults every 10 years.  Today there are boosters for adolescents and adults that contain tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (called Tdap).  Pre-teens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a dose of Tdap.  Adults who didn’t get Tdap as a pre-teen or teen should get one dose of Tdap instead of the Td booster.  

Other ways to keep from getting sick or spreading germs include:

  • Proper handwashingAvoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

For questions about pertussis immunizations, contact the Monterey County Health Department’s Immunization Coordinator at 831-755-4683.