Background. Maternal antibodies interfere with hepatitis A vaccination in young infants. We examined the response to a high dose hepatitis A vaccine administered concomitantly with a combination of diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus vaccine/ Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine to initially seropositive vs. initially seronegative infants.
Methods. Three hundred subjects were originally planned to be enrolled at age 6 to 10 weeks and received hepatitis A vaccine (formalin-inactivated vaccine, SB-Bio, 720 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay units) at 2, 4 and 6 months concomitantly with a diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus vaccine/ H. influenzae type b vaccine. Children initially seropositive received a booster dose at 12 months of age. An additional 100 twelve-month-old infants previously not vaccinated with hepatitis A vaccine were given 1 dose, to observe the primary response at that age. Reactogenicity was recorded on diary cards for the 3 subsequent days. Immunogenicity was measured at Months 2, 4, 5, 10 and 11 after administration of the first vaccine dose. For the subjects enrolled at 12 months, blood was drawn before and 1 month after the first vaccination.
Results. Of 297 initially enrolled infants 36% were seronegative before vaccination (Group A). The geometric mean concentration (GMC) (milli-International Units/ml) of the seropositive infants (Group B) before immunization was 2587. The GMCs of Group A infants 1 month after each dose and at 12 months of age were 93, 518, 1656 and 786, respectively. For Group B infants, the respective GMCs were 1165, 460, 508 and 167. One hundred subjects of Group B received a booster dose at age 12 months; at Month 13 all were seropositive with a GMC of 1902. For comparison, a third group of 100 not previously immunized 12-month-old infants (Group C) were enrolled and received 1 dose of hepatitis A vaccine with pre- and postimmunization GMCs of 52 and 120, respectively.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that the initially seropositive infants were primed despite maternal antibody interference. The hepatitis A vaccine was well-tolerated in this population of young infants.