Federal panel recommends whooping cough vaccination for all adults

A federal advisory panel voted on Wednesday to expand its recommendation of who should get the whooping cough vaccine to include a wider range of adults, recommending that all adults in the United States get vaccinated.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to include all adults ages 65 and above who haven't received a whooping cough shot as adults. While children have been vaccinated against the disease since the 1940s, a vaccine for adults and adolescents was not licensed until 2005, the Associated Press reports.

The panel has gradually added more adult groups to its recommendation since 2005, which included a recommendation in 2010 that the vaccine be given to elderly adults who are frequently around infants. The vote on Wednesday means that all adults should get at least one dose. The panel's recommendations are typically adopted by the federal government.

Whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, is a very contagious bacterial disease that can in some rare cases be deadly. Pertussis leads to severe coughing fits that can cause children to make a characteristic whooping sound when gasping for air. A California whooping cough epidemic in 2010 that infected 9,000 people contributed to the effort to vaccinate additional adults. The epidemic led to 10 infant deaths after they were exposed to older children or infected adults.