Whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory disease. It can cause uncontrollable coughing fits, difficulty breathing, and potentially life threatening complications.

The best way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated against it.

Two types of whooping cough vaccine are available in the United States: the Tdap vaccine and the DTaP vaccine. The Tdap vaccine is recommended for older children and adults, while the DTaP vaccine is recommended for kids under the age of 7 years old.

Read on to learn more about the Tdap vaccine for adults.

Whooping cough infections tend to affect babies more often and more severely than other people. However, older children and adults can also contract this illness.

Getting the whooping cough vaccine will lower your chances of getting the disease. In turn, this will help prevent you from passing the disease on to infants and other people around you.

The Tdap vaccine also reduces your risk of contracting diphtheria and tetanus.

However, the vaccine’s protective effects wear off over time.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people to get the vaccine multiples times in their life, including at least once every 10 years in adulthood.

If you’re pregnant, getting the whooping cough vaccine will help protect you and your unborn baby from the disease.

Although babies can be vaccinated against whooping cough, they typically get their first vaccine when they’re 2 months old. That leaves them vulnerable to infection in the first months of life.

Whooping cough can be very dangerous for young babies, and in some cases even fatal.

To help protect young infants from whooping cough, the CDC advises pregnant adults to get the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The vaccine will cause your body to produce protective antibodies to help fight off whooping cough. If you’re pregnant, your body will pass these antibodies on to the fetus in your womb. This will help protect the baby, after they’re born.

Studies have found that the whooping cough vaccine is safe for pregnant people and fetuses, according to the CDC. The vaccine doesn’t raise the risk of pregnancy complications.

The CDC recommends the following vaccination schedule for whooping cough:

  • Infants and children: Receive a shot of DTaP at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.
  • Adolescents: Receive a shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years.
  • Adults: Receive a shot of Tdap once every 10 years.

If you’ve never received the DTaP or Tdap vaccine, don’t wait 10 years to get it. You can get the vaccine at any time, even if you’ve recently been vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria.

The Tdap vaccine is also recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy.

According to the CDC, the Tdap vaccine offers full protection against whooping cough to about:

  • 7 out of 10 people, in the first year after they get the vaccine
  • 3 to 4 out of 10 people, 4 years after they get the vaccine

When someone who’s pregnant gets the vaccine during the third trimester of pregnancy, it protects their baby from whooping cough in the first 2 months of life in 3 out of 4 cases.

If someone does contract whooping cough after being vaccinated against it, the vaccine may help reduce the severity of the infection.

The Tdap vaccine is very safe for infants, older children, and adults.

When side effects do occur, they tend to be mild and resolve within a couple of days.

Potential side effects include:

  • redness, tenderness, pain, and swelling at the injection site
  • body aches
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • mild fever
  • chills
  • rash

In very rare cases, the vaccine may cause a severe allergic reaction or other serious side effects.

If you have a history of severe allergic reaction, seizures, or other nervous system problems, let your doctor know. They can help you learn if it’s safe for you to get the Tdap vaccine.

In the United States, the cost of the Tdap vaccine depends on whether or not you have health insurance coverage. Government-funded federal health centers also offer vaccinations, sometimes with a sliding scale fee based on your income. State and local health departments can often provide information on how to access free or low-cost vaccinations.

Most private health insurance plans provide coverage for some or all of the cost of the vaccine. Medicare Part D also provides some coverage for vaccination. However, you might face some charges depending on the specific plan that you have.

If you have health insurance, contact your insurance provider to learn if your insurance plan covers the cost of the vaccine. If you don’t have insurance, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or state or local health departments to learn how much the vaccine will cost.

The whooping cough vaccine is safe and recommended for most adults. However, some people with certain medical conditions may not be able to get the vaccine.

If your doctor advises you not to get the vaccine, here are some steps you can take to lower your risk of contracting the infection:

  • Practice good hand hygiene, by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid close contact with people who show signs or symptoms of whooping cough.
  • Encourage other members of your household to get the whooping cough vaccine.

If someone in your household has been diagnosed with whooping cough, let your doctor know. In some cases, they might encourage you to take preventive antibiotics. This may help lower your chances of contracting the infection.

People who’ve received the vaccine can also use these prevention strategies to further reduce their chances of getting whooping cough.

Receiving the Tdap vaccine will lower your chances of contracting whooping cough — and reduce your risk of passing the infection on to others. This can help prevent whooping cough outbreaks in your community.

The Tdap vaccine is safe for most adults and poses very low risk of serious side effects. Talk to your doctor to learn if and when you should receive the vaccine.