Preventing whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough can be prevented by vaccination.

Older children and adults who have been diagnosed with whooping cough should stay at home, and avoid contact with other people especially babies and young children.

Share one family's sad experience with whooping cough and find out why it's so important to vaccinate against this potentially fatal infection (from the Tonic TV series produced with assistance from NPS).

If you have whooping cough and you have been in close contact with anyone in the first 3 weeks of your infection, you must let them know that you have whooping cough and that they might be at risk of catching the infection including:

  • all household and family members
  • children and teachers at childcare or school
  • friends, especially pregnant women
  • work colleagues.
If you have been in close contact with someone with whooping cough — see your doctor as soon as possible.

Who should be vaccinated?

Whooping cough can affect anyone who has not been vaccinated, but children younger than 6 months are at the greatest risk of severe infection as they won’t have had their full set of vaccinations, and will not be fully immune.

It is important that people who care for young infants (e.g. parents and grandparents) also have a whooping cough vaccine, to prevent them passing on the infection to young children who are not fully immune.

Immunity to the whooping cough virus decreases with time so it’s important that you and your child have all the recommended booster vaccinations. Even if you have had whooping cough in the past, your immunity will also decrease within 6-10 years, so it’s important to have a booster vaccination if you have not had one in the past 10 years.

Find out more about the whooping cough vaccine.