Influenza vaccine immunogenicity in premature infants is incompletely characterized.
To assess the immunogenicity of trivalent, inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) in extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW, ≤1000 grams birth weight), premature (<30 weeks gestation) infants. We hypothesized that geometric mean titers (GMT) of influenza antibody would be lower in premature than in full-term (≥37 week) infants.
In this prospective, multicenter study, former premature and full-term infants ages, 6–17 months, received 2 doses of TIV during the 2006–7 or 2007–8 influenza seasons. Sera were drawn before dose 1 and 4–6 weeks after dose 2. Antibody was measured by hemagglutination inhibition.
Over two years, 41 premature and 42 full-term infants were enrolled; 36 and 33 of these infants, respectively, had post-vaccination titers available. Premature infants weighed less (mean 1.3 – 1.8 kg difference) at the time of immunization than full-term infants. Pre-vaccination titers did not differ between groups. Premature infants had higher post-vaccination antibody GMT than full-term infants to H1 (2006–7, 1:513 v. 1:91, P=0.03; 2007–8, 1:363 v. 1:189, P=0.02) and B/Victoria (2006–7, 1:51 v. 1:10, P=0.02). More premature than full-term infants had antibody titers ≥ 1:32 to B/Victoria (85% v. 60%, p=0.04) in 2007–8. Two (5%) premature and 8 (19%) full-term infants had adverse events, primarily fever, within 72 hours after vaccination. No child had medically-diagnosed influenza.
Former premature infants had antibody responses to two TIV doses greater than or equal to those of full-term children. Two TIV doses are immunogenic and well tolerated in ELBW, premature infants 6–17 months old.