Health News

Samish Public Health News Release

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is On the Rise Again in Washington State


According to the Department of Health, the number of whooping cough cases is definitely on the rise again in Washington State.  As of 9 May 2015, a total of 513 cases have been reported statewide compared to 111 cases reported in 2014 during the same time period.  Whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory disease which is spread by coughing or sneezing.  It affects all age groups – but, it is particularly serious and can be life-threatening in infants, especially those too young to get vaccinated or have little or no immunity.  The disease usually starts off as a common cold followed by a prolonged severe cough.  Coughing spells due to the infection can last ten weeks and longer.  Adolescents and Adults often get a much milder case of whooping cough, but they can still spread the disease.

The best way to prevent whooping cough is by getting vaccinated.  The vaccine is given in combination with the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines.  DTaP is given to children 7 years of age and younger.  The Tdap vaccine is given to older children and adults as a booster.  All infants and children should receive the primary DTaP series on schedule to reduce the risk for severe disease in young infants.  A one-time Tdap vaccine is given to older children, adolescents and adults as a booster to help protect themselves and to stop the disease from spreading to others.  Everyone age 11 and older should get one dose of the Tdap whooping cough booster.  Pregnant women should get vaccinated during each pregnancy to best protect newborn babies too young to be vaccinated and at high risk for disease.  Anyone who takes care of or who has close contact with newborns and infants should also be vaccinated.  This includes parents, siblings, child care workers, grandparents and health care staff.

Even though most people receive a series of whooping cough vaccinations as children, protection weakens over time.  Adults should get a Tdap booster in place of their 10 year tetanus (Td) vaccine – sooner if around young children or if they live in an area where there are whooping cough cases.  The one-time Tdap booster dose can also be given earlier than every ten years, as there’s no minimum time period between the doses.  All adults should speak to their doctor or health care provider about what is best in their specific situation.

In response to the whooping cough outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health recommends checking with your doctor or health care provider to make certain you are current with the whooping cough vaccine.  Protect yourself, your family and others from pertussis!

This Public Health News Release is compiled from various government health care sources and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health care provider.

More information on preventing whooping cough is available on the Department of Health website: and at:

Contact information for local health jurisdictions in Washington State:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:  Vaccinations for pregnant women against whooping cough:

The Department of Health Office of Immunization and Child Profile:


Samish Public Health Services

Mitch Markovich, RN

(360) 588-4509


May 2015