Tdap is a vaccine that can help protect against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Whooping cough is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, which attach to the lining of the respiratory tract.

Treatment for whooping cough is available; however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to help prevent whooping cough is vaccination.

The incubation period is commonly 7 to 10 days, with a range of 4 to 21 days. People are most infectious during the early stage of the disease and the first two weeks after the cough begins. During this time, a person with whooping cough can infect as many as 12 to 15 other people.

Early symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks and usually include a runny nose, low-grade fever—which will continue throughout—and a mild cough. As the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of whooping cough may appear, including paroxysms (rapid and violent coughing fits), vomiting during or after coughing fits, and exhaustion from coughing fits. This stage can last anywhere from 1 to 10 weeks. Finally, there is a gradual reduction of coughing and coughing fits that lasts weeks to months.

Even if you’ve had whooping cough or received a DTaP vaccine during childhood, any adult 19 years of age or older should be vaccinated with Tdap if they haven’t been vaccinated with Tdap before.

Whooping cough is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis.