Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a serious infection of the airways (respiratory tract) caused by pertussis bacteria. 

How is pertussis spread?

Pertussis is very contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

What are the symptoms of pertussis?

Pertussis starts like a common cold, with sneezing, runny nose, mild fever and a mild cough. Over the next week or two, the cough gets worse and worse, leading to really bad coughing spells that often end with a whoop (which is where the name whooping cough came from). The cough can make a person gag or spit out mucus and make it hard for them to take a breath. The cough can last for several months and usually happens more at night.

Hear what a pertussis cough sounds like.

What are the risks of pertussis?

Complications from pertussis happen more in infants and can include: 

  • Infection of the lungs (pneumonia) 
  • Swelling of the brain (encephalitis) which can cause seizures and brain damage
  • Death (1 in 170 infants) 

How can I prevent getting pertussis?

The best way to not get pertussis is to get immunized. The pertussis vaccine is combined with other vaccines to give protection against several diseases in one shot. The pertussis vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When you get immunized you help to protect others as well.

Who should get the pertussis vaccine?

The pertussis vaccine is given free (publicly funded) as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends a booster dose for adults. This adult booster dose is not publicly funded (not free) in B.C. Speak to your family doctor or local pharmacist about getting your adult booster shot today.

Get immunized against pertussis by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.

Booking an immunization appointment with Public Health

Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906

Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087 

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Note: When making an appointment with Public Health, you will be offered a text message reminder through the ImmunizeBC text message reminder system. 


For more information about pertussis and the pertussis vaccine, go to: