Combination vaccines are urgently needed to reduce the number of injections given to young children. The aim of the study was to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a combination vaccine that contains diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis antigens (DTaP), recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen (HepB) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) polysaccharide conjugated to tetanus toxoid (PRP-T).
Four hundred five infants were randomized equally to three groups and immunized at 2, 4 and 6 months of age with: (1) DTaP/HepB vaccine used to reconstitute lyophilized PRP-T vaccine and administered as a single injection; (2) DTaP/HepB vaccine and PRP-T vaccine administered as two separate injections; or (3) DTaP, HepB and PRP-T vaccines administered as three separate injections. Safety was closely monitored, and blood specimens were obtained to assess antibody responses to each vaccine antigen.
All study vaccines were well-tolerated, and the rates of systemic and injection site reactions were similar between groups. After the third dose the geometric mean antibody concentrations to Hib were significantly lower in subjects in Group 1 (1.63 μg/ml) compared with subjects in Groups 2 and 3 (6.26 and 6.15 μg/ml, respectively;P < 0.0001). Subjects with antibody concentrations <1.0 μg/ml after the third dose responded well to a booster dose of Hib conjugate vaccine given at 11 to 15 months of age (41 of 44 with anti-PRP ≥1.0 μg/ml). Differences between groups for antibody responses to the other vaccine components were not clinically significant.
Infants given a combined DTaP/HepB/PRP-T vaccine experienced a significantly lower antibody response to the PRP-T component than infants given PRP-T vaccine as a separate injection. However, the immune response to a booster dose of Hib conjugate vaccine indicated the presence of immunologic memory.