News Release Archive

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious disease. Infected
children have spells of violent coughing that can cause them to
vomit or stop breathing for a short period. The cough can last
for weeks and make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even
breathe. Adults can also contract whooping cough.

Are there complications linked to whooping cough?

Pneumonia can occur in more than two out of 10 children with
whooping cough, and in rare cases, the disease can cause brain
damage and death. Severe complications happen most often in

How is whooping cough spread?

Pertussis spreads easily from infected person to others through
coughing or sneezing.

What is a combination vaccine?

Children routinely receive four or five vaccines in one needle.
The new whooping cough vaccine is included in these new
combination vaccines. They protect children against pertussis,
diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Hemophilus type B (Hib). They are
recommended for use in infants and children younger than seven
years. Children receive single injections at two, four, six and
18 months of age. A booster shot is also given between the ages
of four and six. This fifth dose not include Hib vaccine. 

How does the new combination vaccine protect children?

When given in the recommended number of shots, the vaccines
protect 85 per cent of children against whooping cough, more than
85 per cent against diphtheria, more than 95 per cent against
tetanus, 99 per cent against polio and about 90 per cent against
serious Hib infections. Vaccination also makes these diseases
milder for children who catch them.

Is the new whooping cough vaccine safe?

The new vaccine is the safest pertussis vaccine available today.
This newer acellular vaccine causes even fewer minor reactions
and the chances of more serious complications following this
vaccine remain extremely rare.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health would like to thank the
Ontario Department of Health for their assistance with this


Contact: Sue McKeage
         Department of Health

ngr                September 2, 1997 - 4:35 pm