OBJECTIVE: To investigate the immunogenicity of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccines in children with sickle cell disease. DESIGN: Open study. SETTING: Haemoglobinopathy clinic. SUBJECTS: Children with homozygous haemoglobin SS disease (HbSS), sickle haemoglobin C disease (HbSC), and sickle-beta thalassaemia disease (HbS-beta Thal). INTERVENTIONS: Children over the age of 2 years received a single dose of Hib-tetanus toxoid conjugate vaccine (PRP-T). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Antibody response to Hib polysaccharide (PRP) approximately one month after vaccination. RESULTS: 77 children over the age of 2 years were studied,, 55 with HbSS, 16 with HbSC, and six with HbS-beta Thal. Before vaccination, 44% had anti-PRP IgG titres less than the level associated with long term protection (1.0 microgram/ml). After a single dose of PRP-T all children mounted an antibody titre > 1 microgram/ml. Geometric mean anti-PRP IgG titre achieved postvaccination (45.2 micrograms/ml 95% confidence interval (CI) 31.6 to 64.8) was comparable to that of a healthy population. Children with HbSC, however, had a significantly higher antibody titre postvaccination (91.1 micrograms/ml; 95% CI 32.7 to 254.4) than the children with HbSS (36.7 micrograms/ml; 95% CI 25.1 to 52.9). CONCLUSIONS: Children with a diagnosis of sickle cell disease who are over the age of 2 years make a vigorous antibody response to a single dose of PRP-T vaccine and hence we suggest unimmunised individuals in this group should receive a single dose of a Hib conjugate vaccine.
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