Pertussis primary prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Serge Korjian M.D.; Luke Rusowicz-Orazem, B.S.; Yazan Daaboul, M.D.

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The primary prevention method for pertussis is vaccination using the DTaP vaccine. Five doses are recommended in children, with a booster dose recommended during adolescence/adulthood using a similar vaccine with smaller concentrations of diphtheria and pertussis toxoids known as Tdap.[1]

Primary Prevention


  • A combination of tetanus, diptheria, and acellular pertussis administered to infants and children for immunization.
  • A previous formulation of the vaccine, the DTP, included whole cell pertussis. The vaccine included B. pertussis bacteria that was chemically/heat treated. DTP is no longer used.
  • Acellular DTaP is safer as it contains smaller amounts of pertussis endotoxin and exotoxin.
  • Children should get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years.[2]
  • A booster vaccine called similar to DTaP.
  • The lower case d and p indicate smaller concentrations of diphtheria and pertussis toxoids.
  • A single dose of Tdap is recommended for people 11 through 64 years of age. [2]


  • Proper hygienic measures are important during outbreaks and include:[2]
    • Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow
    • Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water
    • Using an alcohol-based sanitation fluid regularly[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 MMWR. Recommendations and reports : Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Recommendations and reports / Centers for Disease Control. 1997; 46(RR-7):1-25.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Accessed on January 14, 2016.

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