Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious infection of the airways. Early symptoms are similar to the common cold and include sneezing, runny nose, mild fever, and a mild cough. Over the next 2 weeks, the cough gets worse, leading to severe, repeated, and forceful coughing spells that often end with a whooping sound before the next breath. The cough can last several months and often occurs more at night. Pertussis can cause complications such as pneumonia, seizures, brain damage or even death. Each year in Canada, 1 to 3 deaths occur due to pertussis, mostly in babies less than 3 months of age who have not been immunized.
Pertussis spreads easily when an infected person coughs, sneezes or has close contact with others. The infection can spread to others during the early stages when symptoms are not severe, and if left untreated, can spread up to 3 weeks after the cough starts.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against pertussis. The pertussis vaccines are provided in combination with other vaccines such as diphtheria, polio and tetanus and are free as part of your child’s routine immunizations. Call your health care provider to make an appointment.
For more information about whopping cough and vaccinations, call 8-1-1 or click the links below.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Learn how pertussis is spread, the symptoms, home treatment advice, and more. Click on the link below to learn more.
Vaccination against Pertussis
The vaccines that protect against pertussis are part of your child’s routine immunizations. A booster dose of the pertussis vaccine is recommended for adults who were immunized in childhood but is not provided for free in B.C. Click on the links below to learn more.
- B.C. Immunization Schedules
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio (Tdap-IPV) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #15a)
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae Type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #15b)
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #18c)
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #105)
The benefits of immunization
Getting immunized is the best way to protect you and your family from serious and sometimes deadly diseases. When you get immunized, you help protect others as well. Click on the links below to learn more about immunization in British Columbia.
- A Better Immunization Experience for your Child (HealthLinkBC File #50e)
- Childhood Vaccines are Safe (HealthLinkBC File #50c)
- The Benefits of Immunizing Your Child (HealthLinkBC File #50b)
- Your Baby’s Immune System and Vaccines (HealthLinkBC File #50a)
Your Health Authority
For information related to whooping cough from your health authority, where available, click on the links below.
- First Nations Health Authority: Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
- Fraser Health: Whooping Cough
- Interior Health: Whooping cough on the increase (News Release August 6, 2015)
- Northern Health: Protect yourself and your family against Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
- Vancouver Coastal Health: Whooping Cough
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. They provide provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, prevention and consultation. They also provide direct diagnostic and treatment services to people with diseases that may affect the health of the public. To learn more about pertussis and the pertussis vaccine, click on the links below.
ImmunizeBC works to improve the health of British Columbians and reduce the number of infections by vaccine-preventable diseases by providing information on immunizations to individuals, families, and health care providers. Immunization can save lives. Learn more about common vaccines, who should get them, and why it is so important to get all of your vaccines on time.
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
The Public Health Agency of Canada is the Federal Agency responsible for promoting health, preventing and controlling chronic diseases and injuries, preventing and controlling infectious diseases, and preparing and responding to public health emergencies. For more information about pertussis, including recent notices, click on the link below.
Last Reviewed: November 2015