Why get immunised against whooping cough?

Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is a serious disease of the airways. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and sometimes death. It is especially serious for babies, but can affect people at any age.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by whooping cough.

By getting vaccinated against whooping cough, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

Who should get immunised against whooping cough?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against whooping cough can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Whooping cough immunisation is recommended for:

  • children aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, four years, and between 10 and 15 years (at school), at no cost under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • pregnant women in the third trimester, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of every pregnancy, at no cost through the NIP
  • healthcare workers, if they have not had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years
  • people working in early childhood education and care, if they haven’t had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years
  • adult household contacts and carers of babies under 6 months old
  • people who are travelling overseas, if they haven’t had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years
  • adults of any age who need a tetanus, diphtheria or polio dose (you can get a combination vaccine that includes whooping cough to increase protection)
  • people aged 50 years, at the same time as they get their recommended tetanus and diphtheria vaccine
  • people aged 65 or over, if they have not had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years.

People under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age, can get whooping cough vaccines at no cost through the NIP. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood. This is called catch-up vaccination.

Where can you get a whooping cough immunisation?

Whooping cough immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against whooping cough?

You can only get whooping cough vaccines as a combination vaccine. They are all given as a needle.

Whooping cough vaccines for children under 10 years old include:

Whooping cough vaccines for people over 10 years old include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your whooping cough immunisation.

Do I need to pay for whooping cough immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are provided at no cost for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine at no cost, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

Pregnant women can get the whooping cough vaccine at no cost through the National Immunisation Program.

If you are not eligible to receive the vaccine at no cost, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of whooping cough immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of whooping cough vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of whooping cough vaccines include:

  • pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against whooping cough? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information


If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018