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On 1 May 2018, a pertussis outbreak was declared and widespread vaccination recommended at an all-female secondary boarding school in southern England. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to determine the extent of pertussis transmission and identify risk factors in this semi-closed population. Of 504 students and staff assessed before post-exposure vaccination, 48% (n = 240) had evidence of pertussis. A sub-analysis of 409 students found that both residential dormitory (p = 0.05) and school year (p = 0.03) were associated with pertussis, with odds decreasing by 11% for each increase in school year (95% confidence interval: 0.7–20.2). Odds of pertussis were 1.7 times higher in those assumed to have received acellular vaccines for their primary course compared with those assumed to have received whole-cell vaccines (based on date of birth), although this difference was not significant (p = 0.12). Our findings support the need for timely, widespread vaccination following identification of cases among adolescents in a semi-closed United Kingdom (UK) setting and to review the evidence for the introduction of an adolescent pertussis booster to the UK routine vaccination programme.


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