A healthy and happy baby after Pertussis Vaccination

(Whooping Cough)

That little "whoop" sound before every coughing fit is a warning sign. Here's what you need to know about this highly contagious respiratory tract infection known as Whooping Cough and how to help prevent it.


Did you know?

Whooping cough (also known as 100-day cough) is a highly contagious infection that causes uncontrollable coughing fits. This cough is dry and doesn't produce mucus, can last up to 1 minute, and may cause the face to turn red or even purple.

Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases and Chemotherapy (MSIDC) has recommended whooping cough vaccination for all pregnant mums1.

Whooping cough can be deadly for newborns. There is a gap of protection for them as babies start their whooping cough vaccination only at 3 months of age. Getting vaccinated during your pregnancy can help to protect you and your little one2 in early life from serious complications3.

Happy family playing with the baby after immunisation

Entire family should consider getting protected when a new arrival is brought home

Young infants infected with whooping cough are commonly passed on from family members. In a study paper, newborns get whooping cough infection from mothers (39%), fathers (16%), grandparents (5%), siblings (16-43%), and others (4-22%) such as caretakers2.

Whooping cough vaccination for Adults and elderly

Whooping cough affects people of all ages

It is not just a childhood disease. More than 40% of Pertussis cases are reported in adults and elderly4. Older adults with whooping cough face a greater risk than younger adults of experiencing pneumonia, fainting, urinary incontinence and hospitalisation5.


Symptoms usually develop within 5 to 10 days of being exposed6. The disease is known to cause uncontrollable, violent coughing fits, which often makes it hard to breathe. This cough can last for 4 to 8 weeks and can be worse at night6,7. Older children and adults may only show mild symptoms with a cough that lasts for 12 weeks on average5.


How it spreads

Whooping cough spreads from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others10. If infected persons are not treated early, they can infect others within the first three weeks of their illness11.

How it spreads

Impact on health

It can be disruptive and distressing, affecting sufferers' existing medical conditions, daily life routines and natural sleeping patterns6. There is also an increased risk of death from pertussis amongst the elderly5.

Severe, sometimes life-threatening complications and death
Impact on schooling and parental care
Economic and employment implications

Get protected

Vaccination at appropriate intervals can boost immunity from pertussis throughout life, to help you stay one step ahead.

Get protected

As recommended by CDC, practising good hygiene can prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. To practise good hygiene, you should:14

  • When you feel a cough or sneeze coming, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue
  • Dispose of used tissues in waste baskets
  • If you don't have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands
  • Good hand washing practices - wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub


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