Whooping Cough Vaccine Side Effects: What You Need to Know

doctor gives the patient a whooping caugh vaccine in the shoulder

Did you know that a whooping cough vaccine exists? How safe is it? What are the whooping cough vaccine side effects, and how common are they? Can you file a lawsuit after a whooping cough vaccine injury?

At Sadaka Law in Englewood, NJ, we’ve recovered millions of dollars nationwide for clients who have suffered injuries from a vaccine. Our firm has the knowledge and resources necessary to handle vaccine injury cases, including those from the whooping cough vaccine.

In this post, we’ll discuss some things you need to know about whooping cough, from symptoms to possible side effects, with an emphasis on the vaccine and complications that may lead to lawsuits.

What Is Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease brought to you by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis causes uncontrollable and violent coughing fits that make it hard to catch a breath or breathe normally.

The resulting shortness of breath often causes the afflicted person to suck in air quickly and deeply directly after a coughing fit, causing a “whooping” sound.

Many people mistakenly believe that only infants are at risk of catching pertussis. The disease can be fatal in babies under a year old. However, adults have just as great a chance of contracting whooping cough as children do, and it’s incredibly contagious.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

elderly man in medical mask coughs at home

Most people who contract pertussis show symptoms about five to ten days after exposure, although sometimes they can take as long as three weeks. Early signs of pertussis include:

  • Mild cough
  • Runny nose
  • Apnea (in infants)
  • Low-grade fever

Late-stage symptoms, which occur about one to two weeks after infection, include:

  • Violent, intense coughing fits
  • Bouts of rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched “whooping” noise
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion after coughing fits
  • Nausea and vomiting after coughing fits

The Whooping Cough Vaccine

The best way to protect yourself or your child from catching whooping cough is by electing for them (and yourself) to get the vaccine, which also protects you from tetanus and diphtheria. However, just as with any vaccine, you may experience adverse side effects. Currently, the U.S. offers two types of pertussis vaccines:

  1. Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) Vaccine: for older children and adults
  2. DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccine): for children under the age of 7

The protective effects of the pertussis vaccine will eventually wear off, which is why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get the vaccine at least every ten years.

Common Side Effects From Whooping Cough Vaccine

man standing holding his abdomen with upset stomach or diarhea after getting vaccinated

The most common whooping cough vaccine side effects include pain, redness, or swelling in the injection area. However, some people may experience additional side effects, including:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Irritability or crabbiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fussing or crying (babies and children)
  • Body aches or muscle soreness

Fortunately, most side effects from the pertussis vaccine are mild and will disappear within a few days.

Severe Side Effects

young male patient sits on wheelchair due to muscle severe weakness after getting vaccination

Like any other medicine or vaccine, a small number of people may experience severe side effects (vaccine injuries), such as an allergic reaction. While these severe side effects are relatively rare, they’re still a very real possibility and, left untreated, are dangerous to your health and wellbeing.

For example, the DTaP vaccine may cause the following severe side effects in infants and children:

  • High-grade fever, 105°F or higher
  • Constant crying or fussing for 3+ hours
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Severe swelling or pain
  • Collapsing or fainting
  • Entering a shock-like state
  • Progressive neurological issues
  • Brain swelling or inflammation (encephalitis)
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
  • Weak, limp, or floppy muscles
  • Decreased consciousness
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Facial palsy
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Brachial neuritis (nerve damage)
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Coma
  • Death

As you can see, whooping cough vaccine side effects can cause serious harm. For example, researchers conducted a study of 730 children between the ages of two months and six years, all of whom received the pertussis vaccine. Of the immunized children, 87% developed side effects:

  • 66% had a fever
  • 37.8% experienced malaise
  • 25% experienced a loss of appetite
  • 20.4% had sleep disorders
  • 7.9% experienced vomiting
  • 7.6% cried continuously

In case that wasn’t scary enough, another study that included DTP vaccinations in children up to age six resulted in nine children experiencing convulsions and nine more subject to muscle limpness or decreased consciousness, known as a hypotonic-hyporesponsive episode.

Another severe side effect you might experience from pertussis is a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA), which occurs when a healthcare provider improperly injects a vaccine (i.e., too deep or too high in the shoulder). It can cause pain, weakness, tissue damage, inflammation, or limited mobility.

How Long Do the Side Effects of the Whooping Cough Vaccine Last?

Thankfully, most pertussis vaccine side effects are mild and only last a few days, typically within 48 hours of immunization. Most people experience pain, redness, or swelling at the vaccine injection site, lasting anywhere from one to seven days.

However, severe side effects may last longer. If you believe you are experiencing adverse symptoms caused by the whooping cough vaccine, you should seek immediate medical attention from a licensed professional.

Can You File a Whooping Cough Vaccine Lawsuit?

syringe vaccine and judge gavel on wodden background

While each case has unique circumstances, if you’ve suffered an injury due to side effects from the whooping cough vaccine, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Of course, there’s no guarantee. However, our firm would be happy to discuss your case. Just give us a call and book your initial case consultation with our team to get started.

In addition, if you or your child received a SIRVA diagnosis or another vaccine injury after receiving the Tdap, DTaP, or another pertussis vaccine, you may qualify for compensation (up to $250,000) from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or VICP.

However, you only have three years from the date of your first symptoms/injury to file a petition with VICP. In fatal cases, the deadline is two years from the date of death and four years from the first injury.

Whooping Cough Vaccine While Pregnant: The Straight Facts

According to the CDC, the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) is “very safe” for pregnant women and their babies. In addition, it’s also safe to receive the vaccine while breastfeeding. In fact, doctors recommend that women receive the vaccine during pregnancy, in the third trimester.

Studies show that the pertussis vaccine reduced the risk of pertussis by about 90% for newborns in the first two months after birth. Another systematic review of numerous studies confirmed the safety and efficacy of the pertussis vaccine in pregnant women and new mothers.

Does the VICP Cover the Whooping Cough Vaccine?

Yes, the VICP does cover certain vaccine injuries resulting from the whooping cough vaccine. If you believe you’re experiencing adverse side effects from the pertussis vaccine, you should contact your doctor first. The next step is to access the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, and report your vaccine injury.

After that, you should contact an experienced vaccine injury lawyer who can help you file a petition with VICP. If you’re unsure about the process or you want to learn more information, don’t hesitate to contact our firm here at Sadaka Law in Englewood, NJ.

Contact Sadaka Law Today at the Vaccine Injury Help Center

The pertussis vaccine may protect against whooping cough, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe for everybody. Many people experience whooping cough vaccine side effects, from mild pain and swelling at the injection site to more severe injuries, like convulsions, brain damage, or SIRVA.

If you’ve experienced side effects or injuries from the whooping cough vaccine, don’t wait another day to seek professional legal advice. Call us at Sadaka Law at (800) 810-3457 or use our online contact form to request a consultation.

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