Immunization and Vaccine Preventable Diseases
To obtain or inquire about an
immunization record for yourself or your child, please contact your local public health unit.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is an acute infection of the respiratory tract caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Only humans can be affected by this disease. Transmission occurs through direct contact with respiratory droplets spread during coughs and sneezes from an infected person. Symptoms begin with a mild respiratory illness then progresses to prolonged cough episodes with the characteristic whoop or which end in vomiting.
Pertussis can affect individuals of any age; however, severity is greatest among young infants under four months of age who are too young to be protected by a complete pertussis vaccine series. These infants are at highest risk of pertussis-associated complications, including pneumonia, seizures and death.
Vaccination plays a key role in reducing the risk of pertussis. Under the Ontario publicly-funded immunization program, pertussis vaccine is given in combination with vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b to infants at two, four and six months of age, with a booster given at 18 months. Additional booster doses of vaccines containing pertussis are administered between four and six years and again at 14 to 16 years of age. In Ontario, a one-time dose of pertussis-containing vaccine, given in combination with tetanus and diphtheria (Tdap) is funded for all adults, with no upper age limit.