(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 and how to 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.

MOH recommended for all pregnant mums

Ministry of Health (MOH) has recommended whooping cough vaccination for all pregnant mums; extending use of Medisave under the schedule1

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 is the best way to protect yourself and your little one3 in early life from serious complications.

Entire family should consider getting protected

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

In Singapore, it was observed that 87% of newborns were infected with whooping cough that was passed on from closed family members3

Whooping cough affects people of all ages

Whooping cough affects people of all ages

It is not just a childhood disease. More than 40% of whooping cough 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 night10. 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 others8. 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 patterns10. 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


  • Ministry of Health Press Release 2017: MOH establishes National Adult Immunisation Schedule; extends use of Medisave for vaccines under the schedule. Available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • CDC Pregnancy and Whooping Cough. Get Vaccinated While Pregnant. Available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • Anne Goh et al. Vaccine 29 (2011) 2503-2507
  • EUVAC, Pertussis Surveillance Report 2010. Available at: (Last accessed June 2018)
  • De Serres et al. J. Morbidity of Pertussis in Adolescents and Adults. Infect Dis 2000;182:174–179
  • CDC. Pertussis: Signs and Symptoms. Available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • CDC Pertussis Info available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • Whooping Cough and the Vaccine (Shot) to Prevent It; Patient Information; CDC Resources available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • Schellekens J et al. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2005; 24 [5Suppl]: S19-24
  • World Health Organization (WHO). Pertussis Information. Available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • NSW Government. Communicable Diseases Fact Sheet: Whooping Cough (Pertussis). Available at (Last accessed June 2018)
  • Bisgard KM et al. Infant Pertussis – Who Was the Source?. Pediatr Infect Dis 2004;23:985-989
  • Lee et al. Societal Costs and Morbidity of Pertussis in Adolescents and Adults. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2004;39:1572-80
  • Ridda, I. Attitudes, knowledge and perceptions towards whooping cough and pertussis vaccine in hospitalized adults. Vaccine 2014;32(9):1107-12
  • CDC. Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Prevention. Available at (Last accessed June 2018)