Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a very contagious respiratory tract infection that spreads easily when you cough, sneeze, or even when you simply talk to another person.
Initially, pertussis resembles an ordinary cold; eventually the symptoms become serious. In adults, pertussis can cause coughing spells that affect breathing, eating, and sleeping, and can lead to violent episodes resulting in cracked ribs and hospitalization.
Whooping cough in adults may not be diagnosed because it may start very mild followed by a bad cough that people may think is just a “leftover” symptom from a cold. Adults can pass on the infection to others, even when it’s mild in them.
Infants are at the greatest risk of serious complications, including death. The best way to prevent pertussis among adults, infants, children, and teens is to get vaccinated.
For more information about whooping cough in Seattle and King County, visit:
For more information about pertussis (whooping cough) causes and symptoms, visit:
About the pertussis vaccine
Vaccine protects an individual against whooping cough, and prevents the disease from spreading to others. The immunity we get from whooping cough vaccines wears off over time, which is why you can get it again as an adult.
Talk to your health care provider to make sure all children, teens and adults in your household are up-to-date with whooping cough vaccine, especially if they are in contact with infants or pregnant women.
In the United States, the recommended pertussis vaccine for infants and children is called DTaP*. This is a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis.
Children aged 7 to 10 years who aren’t fully vaccinated against whooping cough and everyone aged 11 and older should get a whooping cough booster, called Tdap*.
For adolescents and adults, the whooping cough booster is called Tdap*, which stands for tetanus, diphtheria, acellular (partial) pertussis.
*Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the whooping cough booster. The “a” in DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.
Where to get low-cost pertussis vaccine in King County
The Washington State Childhood Vaccine Program provides vaccine to all kids less than 19 years of age in Washington. The program uses a combination of federal and state funds to purchase vaccines. State and local public health offices help providers enroll in the program, order vaccines, and meet program requirements.
Most local pharmacies offer whooping cough vaccine and it is covered by most insurance plans.
The cost of the Tdap booster shot without insurance is from $60-$100.
Adults without health insurance or who can’t afford to pay for whooping cough vaccine can get low-cost adult Tdap vaccine, for an administration fee of up to $15.60. People who cannot afford the Tdap administration fee can ask to have the fee waived.
Low cost pertussis providers in the Puget Sound region (and beyond)
Federally designated Rural Health Clinics (PDF)
Low-cost vaccines for children under 19 are available through health care providers participating in the Washington State Childhood Vaccine Program