Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expanding an earlier recommendation that seniors be vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis). They now recommend that all adults 65 and older be immunized, not just those who are caring for babies.
Researchers believe whooping cough occurs more frequently in older adults than had been previously observed. That may help explain outbreaks of pertussis in California and other states in the past few years. Also, research has shown that immunity to the bacteria that cause whooping cough can wear off over time, which is why adults need to get booster shots.
The T-DAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It’s routinely given to children starting at 2 months. But three shots, usually done by 6 months, are needed to be sure a child’s immune system can fight off the bacteria that cause pertussis.
To protect the youngest and most vulnerable children, those who haven’t been fully vaccinated, it’s important that relatives and other people in the community be vaccinated to prevent spread of whooping cough.