Whooping Cough Immunisation

Whooping Cough Information

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The infection begins with symptoms similar to a cold and develops into a cough with a distinctive 'whooping' sound when breathing in. This cough can last up to three months, even after antibiotic treatment is completed and the person is no longer infectious.

Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for babies aged under 6 months as they are more seriously affected and can develop fatal complications associated with the illness. One in every 200 babies aged under 6 months who gets whooping cough will die.

Immunisation is the best protection against whooping cough and a booster is recommended for any adult who wishes to reduce the likelihood of getting and spreading the infection. Immunisation is particularly important for people in close contact with infants.

Please note: The Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program provides a free whooping cough vaccine to eligible people, including:

  • Infants and children (5-dose schedule)
  • Adolescents aged 11 to 13 years
  • Pregnant women

If you fall into any of the categories above, it is recommended that you speak with your pharmacist or doctor about whooping cough immunisation and the National Immunisation Program prior to booking your appointment.

Eligible people get the vaccine at no cost, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit.

General information only. This information does not replace the information provided by your healthcare professional. Information current as at date of publishing. Report any errors to [email protected]


For more information about Whooping Cough and immunisation, visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.