Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 7: Infectious Diseases

7.3 Respiratory Tract Infections

7.3.7 Pertussis Exclusion for Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Content in the standard was modified on 7/05/2022.

Children and staff with pertussis (whooping cough) symptoms or diagnosis should be excluded from early care and education programs and be examined by a health care provider. 

Children and staff with suspected or diagnosed pertussis may return to their early care and education program when:1–3

  • They have completed 5 days of antibiotic treatment for pertussis.
  • 21 days have passed from the start of a cough that is not treated with antibiotics.  
  • Children are able to fully participate in the program.
  • The child may be cared for without compromising the health and safety of the other children in the group.

Children and staff who are exposed to someone with pertussis, even if they do not have symptoms, should be evaluated by a health care provider to decide if vaccines, preventive antibiotic treatment, or temporary exclusion from a program are needed.2–3 Once a pertussis diagnosis is confirmed in a program, local public health officials should be told. 

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause serious symptoms in infants and young children, especially in those who have not completed the recommended pertussis vaccines. Temporary exclusion from early care and education programs and appropriate treatment of staff and children are essential to reduce the spread of the illness. Staff and children who are exposed, even if immunized, can spread pertussis and need examination/treatment by a health care provider.2-3

For more information on pertussis, please visit:

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Inclusion/Exclusion/Dismissal of Ill Children Staff Exclusion for Illness Infectious Disease Outbreak Control Exclusion and Alternative Care for Children Who Are Ill Immunization of Staff Informing Public Health Authorities of Pertussis Cases Prophylactic Treatment for Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide. Aronson SS, Shope TR, eds. 5th ed. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2020

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis (whooping cough), post exposure antimicrobial prophylaxis, information for health professionals. Web site. Last reviewed November 18, 2019. Accessed December 7, 2021.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Chapter 3: Summaries of infectious disease, pertussis. In: Kimberlin DW, Barnett ED, Lynfield R, Sawyer MH, eds. Red Book: 2021 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2021:578-589



Content in the standard was modified on 7/05/2022.