Pertussis vaccination of infants has dramatically reduced disease, complications and deaths in infancy and early childhood. But there is still a major public health challenge - to deal with the morbidity and economic burden of illness in older children, adolescents and adults. Furthermore, it is these groups that form a major source of infection for non-immunised and partially immunised infants who are at high risk of severe complications. Adult-type acellular pertussis vaccine confers safe and effective protection against pertussis. There are several strategies to consider for immunising older individuals. Universal vaccination of all age groups would be the best available strategy for protecting individuals. It would also reduce the potential for transmitting the disease to other susceptibles, particularly infants. However, such a policy may be difficult both logistically and economically at this time. More easily achievable as a first step would be a strategy of universal adolescent booster vaccination combined with a programme targeted at adults most likely to have contact with very young babies including healthcare and childcare workers, parents and close family contacts. There is also potential for offering vaccination to adults (and their carers and close contacts) whose medical conditions or advanced age may place them at increased risk of more severe pertussis disease. Specific details of immunisation programmes must be made on a country by country basis depending on local circumstances.