Whooping cough cases hit an all-time high in Vermont

Vermont is experiencing the most severe outbreak of whooping cough, or pertussis, in recorded history.

The Vermont Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 293 cases of the highly contagious bacterial infection this year. And according to DOH spokesman Robert Stirewalt, that is a conservative calculation.

“We are probably over 300 cases now,” he said. “This is the most cases we have had in Vermont in one year since we started tracking it in 1980.”

Of those 293 confirmed cases, 72 occurred between Aug. 12 and Sept. 22 and almost half of those recent cases appeared in kids ages 5 to 18. Of the 72 recent episodes, Chittenden County had the highest incident rate with 17 confirmed cases, and Franklin and Lamoille counties followed up close behind with 14 cases each.

The last time Vermont had such a widespread outbreak of pertussis was in 1997 when 283 cases were confirmed. In 1996, 280 cases were reported, and 171 of them occurred in school-aged children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the illness.

Andrew Stein

Leave a Reply

7 Comments on "Whooping cough cases hit an all-time high in Vermont"


Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation.

Privacy policy
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dorian Yates
4 years 3 months ago
The VT DOH Web site states that, “Immunization against pertussis usually prevents this disease in children.” However it appears that the VT DOH actual cases numbers seem to portray a contradictory picture. According to the State Department of Health, of the 211 pertussis cases from Jan 1 to Sept 5 in kids from 6 months to 18 years old, 91% of those were vaccinated—that is 192 of the Pertussis cases had received some level of vaccines. The highest number of cases were actually in those with the most vaccines—5 or 6 doses (157 of the cases‚ 74.5%) and the remaining… Read more »
4 years 3 months ago
Dorian makes some important points here and the question she asks is something I also would like to ask: Why are we spending money on this vaccine product which we know does not work? There are many recent studies and articles showing problems with the efficacy of the pertussis vaccine and the science on this subject has been available for several years. Also, the organisms that cause whooping cough can be in the respiratory tract whether you are vaccinated or not. This is why the “blame game” during the vaccine debate this spring – when claims were made that possible… Read more »
sandy reider MD
4 years 3 months ago

Dorian Yates is quite right in stating that the pertussis vaccine is not very effective. This current outbreak has nothing to do with unvaccinated children. Does anyone really believe that adding a 7th pertussis vaccination will do anything but shift the next predictable whooping cough outbreak ( they typically occur every 3-5 years ) into a slightly older cohort as the vaccine efficacy rapidly wanes ? The current CDC strategy will require frequent booster shots for both children and adults to be effective in suppressing these outbreaks …. let’s be careful what we wish for !
Sandy Reider MD

Steven Smith
4 years 3 months ago

There is a discussion of the issue that I found well reasoned at


Lisa Mackenzie
4 years 3 months ago
At the very end of the discussion are two words in blue print, DISCLOSURE NOTICE. If one clicks through, one finds that Mr. Cherry MD has been a paid as a consultant for Sanofil Pasteur and Glaxo Smith Kline, manufacturers of the pertussis vaccines. Dr. Cherry appears to have been working for them as a consultant to Mexico and Denmark and Latin American organizations since 2009. He is paid to promote their products and has a clear conflict of interest. The DISCLOSURE NOTICE of potential conflicts of interest link is here http://www.nejm.org/doi/suppl/10.1056/NEJMp1209051/suppl_file/nejmp1209051_disclosures.pdf I thought I’d dig a little more and… Read more »
Steven Smith
4 years 3 months ago

Agreed. Clear conflict of interest. But also a discussion that points out both how far the vaccine is from ideal and how far it is from worthless, that points out the data for and against antigenic drift as the cause of the recent rise in cases, and that acknowledges the low quality of the data we are working from.

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Whooping cough cases hit an all-time high in Vermont"