Disease & Vaccine Information

Who is at Highest Risk for Getting Pertussis?

Updated July 31, 2022

Young infants with developing immune systems, as well as older children, adolescents, and adults may be at risk for developing pertussis.  Studies have indicated that infants do not appear to receive substantial benefits from maternal antibodies, which may put them at a higher risk of developing pertussis.  For many individuals, the pertussis vaccine (DPT, DTaP, TDaP) does not give long lasting protection against the disease and some individuals will never develop temporary immunity despite receiving all recommended boosters.    ,   Over time, the temporary immunity individuals may acquire through vaccination wanes, which often results in outbreaks of B pertussis in fully vaccinated children, teenagers and adults. ,  ,  ,  

Other populations who may be at risk for developing pertussis include healthcare personnel or persons with weakened immune systems. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Pertussis and the Pertussis vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.



1 Mayo Clinic Whooping Cough. Feb. 10, 2018

2 Finger H, von Koenig CHW. Chapter 31 Bordetella. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996.

3 Cherry JD. Why Do Pertussis Vaccines Fail? Pediatrics 2012; 129(5).

4 Lavine J, Bjornstad O, de Blasio BF, Storsaeter J. Short-lived immunity against pertussis, age-specific routes of transmission, and the utility of a teenage booster vaccine. Vaccine 2012; 30(3): 544-551.

5 McGirr A, Fisman, DN, Duration of Pertussis Immunity After DTaP Immunization: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics Feb 2015, 135 (2)

6 Klein NP, Bartless S, Fireman B, Baxter R. Waning Tdap Effectiveness in Adolescents. Pediatrics Feb. 3, 2016.

7 Klein NP; Bartlett J; Rowhani-Rahbar A; Fireman B; Baxter R Waning protection after fifth dose of acellular pertussis vaccine in children N Engl J Med.  2012; 367(11):1012-9

8 Misegades LK, Winter K, Harriman K et al. Association of Childhood Pertussis With Receipt of 5 Doses of Pertussis Vaccine by Time Since Last Vaccine Dose, California, 2010 JAMA 2012; 308(20): 2126-2132.

9 Matthias J, Pritchard S, Martin SW et al. Sustained Transmission of Pertussis in Vaccinated, 1–5-Year-Old Children in a Preschool, Florida, USA Emerg Infect Dis Jan. 15, 2016.

10 Mayo Clinic Whooping Cough. Feb. 10, 2018

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