Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine

Information about the whooping cough vaccine, who they are recommended for and possible side effects. If you're eligible, you can get the whooping cough vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a serious disease of the airways. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and sometimes death. It is especially serious for babies, but can affect people at any age.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by whooping cough. It is given as a combination vaccine that protects against other diseases.

Who should get vaccinated against whooping cough

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against whooping cough can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends whooping cough vaccination for specific groups including:

  • routine vaccination in infants, children and adolescents
  • routine booster vaccination in adults, including those in special risk groups or in contact with a special risk group, such as
    • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • healthcare workers
    • early childhood educators and carers
    • people in close contact with infants
  • vaccination of people who have missed doses of pertussis-containing vaccine.

The whooping cough combination vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for:

  • children aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months and 4 years
  • adolescents aged 12-13 years through school-based vaccination programs
  • pregnant women (ideally between 20-32 weeks)

Eligible people under 20 years old and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get a free catch-up vaccination. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood and it is recommended to receive the vaccine.

Pertussis vaccines should not be given to people who have had:

  • anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any pertussis-containing vaccine
  • anaphylaxis after any component of a pertussis-containing vaccine.

Read more about getting vaccinated.

How to get vaccinated against whooping cough

Whooping cough vaccines only come as a combination vaccine that also protects against other diseases such as diphtheria and tetanus.

*Indicated National Immunisation Program vaccine. 

Your vaccination provider will tell you which vaccine they will give you.

Find product information and consumer medicine information for each available vaccine on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

Where to get vaccinated

You can get your vaccine from a range of vaccination providers. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.

Possible side effects of whooping cough vaccination

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.

Common side effects of whooping cough vaccines include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks -no treatment needed)
  • mild fever
  • grizzly, unsettled, unhappy and sleepy (baby).

Talk to your vaccination provider about possible side effects of whooping cough vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

Date last updated:

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