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N Engl J Med. 1990 Nov 15;323(20):1393-401.

Limited efficacy of a Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine in Alaska Native infants. The Alaska H. influenzae Vaccine Study Group.

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Department of Pediatrics, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.



The prevention of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease requires a vaccine that is effective when administered during the first six months of life. The infants of Alaska Natives are at particularly high risk of invasive H. influenzae type b disease.


To evaluate the protective efficacy of a H. influenzae type b polysaccharide-diphtheria toxoid conjugate vaccine (polyribosylribitol phosphate-diphtheria toxoid [PRP-D]), we enrolled 2102 Alaska Native infants in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which either the vaccine or a saline placebo was administered at approximately two, four, and six months of age.


After 3969 subject-years of follow-up and 32 episodes of H. influenzae type b disease, the overall incidence of invasive disease was not reduced significantly in the vaccinated subjects (6.0 cases per 1000 patient-years), as compared with the placebo controls (9.6) or with other Alaska Native infants (6.0). After one, two, or three doses there was no significant protective efficacy with the vaccine; after three doses the efficacy was only 35 percent (95 percent confidence interval, -57 to 73). The lack of efficacy was not related to the age at onset of disease, age at immunization, type of disease, degree of Alaska Native heritage, time after immunization, or year of the study. Levels of H. influenzae type b anticapsular antibody in recipients of the vaccine became significantly higher than levels in those who received placebo only after the second and third doses. Even after the third dose, only 48 percent of the vaccinated infants had antibody levels of more than 0.1 microgram per milliliter (geometric mean titer, 0.18). Antibody responses did not vary with the level of maternally acquired antibody, degree of Alaska Native ancestry, or age at time of the first or second immunizations, but they increased with increasing age at time of the third dose (P less than 0.001).


We found no evidence that the PRP-D vaccine provides significant protection, at least for Alaska Native infants, against invasive diseases caused by H. influenzae type b. The ineffectiveness of the vaccine paralleled its limited immunogenicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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