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Vaccination against pertussis (whooping cough)

What is pertussis?

Whooping cough is hidden behind it. This is an infectious disease caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. The bacterium is widespread worldwide and can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or speaking, i.e. through droplets. The bacteria are passed on very easily and the probability that a sick person will infect all other unprotected family members is almost 100 percent.

Adults with whooping cough usually suffer from a non-specific cough that lasts for weeks, with an average of six to seven weeks. But you can also become seriously ill. Complications occur in around a quarter of cases (e.g. weight loss, groin and rib fractures, pneumonia or middle ear infections, incontinence, and more rarely, cerebral hemorrhage). Around one to four percent of all adult patients need to be treated in hospital, and these are mostly older people.

Deaths from whooping cough are very rare in adulthood. However, whooping cough can pose a real threat to infants. Lung and middle ear infections occur, which require hospital treatment and are sometimes life-threatening. Since the infection mainly occurs through close contacts (around 80 percent of cases) without them being aware of it, it not only makes sense to vaccinate infants against whooping cough as early as possible, but parents and other caregivers should also take precautions have the child vaccinated before birth.

Who and when should be vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough)?

These vaccinations are relevant for every age group. Especially for infants, pregnant women and close contacts of infants.

Basic immunization normally takes place in childhood. But you can get it at any time; one vaccination in adulthood is sufficient.
In adulthood, vaccination against tetanus and diphtheria should be given once in combination with the next booster dose. A single vaccine against whooping cough is not available.

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends vaccination in particular to all women who want to have children and to close contacts of infants (siblings, grandparents, babysitters, etc.). to prevent endangerment of the newborn. If you are pregnant, you should get vaccinated against whooping cough in the last trimester of your pregnancy. The mother's antibodies against the disease are passed on to the child (nest protection). Of course, the vaccination also protects the mother.

How is the vaccination against pertussis carried out and what must be taken into account?

The pertussis vaccination is an inactivated vaccine and is usually carried out as a combination vaccination. The vaccination is given in your upper arm muscle.

The vaccination is well tolerated. Very often, the stimulation of the body's own immune system causes redness or swelling at the injection site, which can also be painful. Rarely, general symptoms such as a rise in temperature, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or gastrointestinal complaints can occur in the first three days after vaccination. Such vaccination reactions usually subside after one to three days.

What should I do in the next step?

To check whether you have vaccination protection, simply make an appointment to check your vaccination status at one of our Avi Medical practices and discuss this with our team of doctors . They will advise you in detail whether you are already protected or whether you should receive a vaccination. The doctors will also check whether there are other vaccinations that would be useful for you and, if necessary, will carry them out directly.