Yes, pertussis can be prevented among household members and others in close contact with an infected person by treating the exposed persons with antibiotics, even if they have been vaccinated. Vaccination of children and adults can also prevent pertussis. The pertussis vaccine is given along with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the same shot (called DTaP) for children. DTaP cannot be given to babies less than six weeks old or to anyone seven years of age or older.
Experts recommend that all babies and children be given a full series of DTaP vaccine unless there is a medical reason not to receive the vaccine. Vaccination is recommended at 2, 4, 6, and 15 to 18 months old, with an additional shot at four to six years old, for a total of five doses. The 4th dose of DTaP may be given as early as 12 months, provided 6 months have elapsed since the third dose of DTaP. Vaccination against pertussis is also recommended for older children and adults.
Because vaccine protection begins to fade in older children and adults, a new vaccine (called Tdap) has been developed against pertussis for these age groups. To protect babies from being exposed to pertussis, families who have or are expecting a baby and people who work with babies should consult with their doctor about receiving this vaccine. Most hospitalizations and deaths occur in children younger than three months of age. When possible, babies should be kept away from people who are coughing. Babies with any coughing should be seen by a doctor.