New Hanover County Public Health Officials note increase in whooping cough activity, encourage vaccine update

Posted November 22, 2019 at 4:33 pm     Category: News ReleaseOtherPublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County public health officials have identified an increase in Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” in the county and surrounding areas. In response, county health officials are educating the community about symptoms and urging everyone to make sure their vaccines are up to date.

“Pertussis is a highly contagious, but preventable bacterial infection that causes violent coughing for up to 10 weeks,” said New Hanover County Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “We usually think of children developing whooping cough, but adults can develop it too and are often not diagnosed until later in the illness. That’s why it’s important for children to have their DTaP vaccine, and for adults to have their Tdap booster.”

What is Pertussis/Whooping Cough?

Symptoms can include:

  • Severe fits of coughing, including rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched, “whoop” sound
  • Coughing fits followed by vomiting
  • Exhaustion after coughing fits
  • Apnea (temporarily stopped breathing—usually in infants)

Symptoms can vary by individuals. Contact your doctor if you suspect yourself or your child are experiencing pertussis symptoms.

Who Should Receive the Vaccine?

 Everyone needs protection from pertussis. Children under 7 years of age should receive five doses of DTaP vaccine.  DTaP is a vaccine series that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It is recommended that the DTaP series begin at 2 months of age, and continue at 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years of age.

The Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) vaccine is what is given to older children and adults. Children 7 through 10 years of age should receive one dose of Tdap if they were not fully vaccinated with DTaP. Adolescents through age 18 should receive one dose of Tdap; preferably at 11 through 12 years of age. Everyone 19 years of age or older should receive one dose of Tdap.

 The Tdap vaccine is highly recommended for the following populations:

  • Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant;
  • Anyone who has close contact with infants under 12 months of age (parents, siblings, grandparents, household contacts, child care providers); and
  • Anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease.

 The Pertussis vaccine (DTaP and/or Tdap) is available through all state immunization providers, including private health care providers and New Hanover County Public Health.  For more information on pertussis and vaccination, visit, or contact New Hanover County Public Health (910) 798-6500.



Media Contact:
Kate Oelslager

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