About whooping cough

Whooping cough spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, gets its common name from the high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a “whoop” following a severe hacking cough in many infected persons. It often starts with cold-like symptoms, with coughing continuing for weeks. Click to hear.

Dangerous for babies

Whooping cough is a serious disease, especially for infants. It can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage or even death. About half of infants younger than 12 months who get whooping cough must go to the hospital. Babies usually get whooping cough from family members who don’t realize they have the disease, which is why ensuring that children and adults surrounding a baby are protected through immunization is essential. Since infants cannot start the DTaP series until they are 2 months old, pregnant women should get the Tdap during the third trimester (27–36 weeks) in order to protect newborns.

Whooping cough symptoms

Symptoms of whooping cough can vary depending on age. Anyone with a persistent cough, especially if it includes fits of coughing or causes vomiting, should seek medical care.

Two vaccines protect against whooping cough. Here's what you need to know:

DTaP for children
(diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)
Infants and children
A series of 5 shots
Beginning at 8 weeks of age
Tdap for adults
(tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
Everyone 11 or older and during each pregnancy
One booster shot
Age 11 and 12; and teens and adults who didn't get the booster should get it right away

Ask your health care provider about your and your child's vaccination status.

If you think you or your child might have whooping cough, call your health care provider.

Find out where else to get vaccinated from the Washington State Department of Health.

One Mother's Story

When Michelle and Joe welcomed their healthy baby girl into the world, their family felt complete. Then after two weeks, their lives were turned upside down.

Whooping cough is a dangerous disease that can be catastrophic for infants. This is one family's story of their newborn's battle against whooping cough and their message to the community.

Find Out More

The Silence Whooping Cough campaign is a program of WithinReach, funded and created by the Group Health Foundation in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, Public Health - Seattle & King County, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Spokane Regional Health District, Providence Medical Group and the Washington State University College of Nursing. The campaign aims to stop the spread of whooping cough in Washington state by educating residents about the disease and how to prevent it. Please contact WithinReach at communications@withinreachwa.org with questions about the campaign.