The Use of Combination Vaccines Has Improved Timeliness of Vaccination in Children
In Germany, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), polio and hepatitis B (HBV) vaccines have been combined with diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccines. We examined whether the use of combination vaccines has improved the timing of these vaccinations.Methods:
Vaccination information was obtained from representative nationwide telephone interviews about 2701 children born from 1996 through 2003 in Germany. We assessed up-to-date vaccination as the percentage of children vaccinated by 3, 5 and 15 months for the first dose, full primary series and full immunization, respectively. We compared results over periods when different combination vaccines were used. We also compared median age at first dose, full priming and full immunization for children receiving different types of combination vaccines.Results:
During the study period, monovalent vaccines were replaced by higher-valent combination vaccines. With the change from mono- to 4-, 5- and 6-valent vaccines, up-to-date vaccination increased for Hib, polio and HBV. Median age at immunization improved by 0.5 month for Hib, 0.4 month for polio and 0.9 month for HBV at the first dose and 2.2 months for Hib, 3.2 months for polio and 1.4 months for HBV at full immunization when comparing hexavalent with monovalent vaccines. Median age for 4-5-valent vaccines was intermediate. The difference between monovalent and 6-valent vaccines remained significant after stratifying/adjusting for the effect of birth cohorts.Conclusion:
Combination vaccines are usually advocated for reducing the number of injections. In Germany, however, the use of combination vaccines has also significantly improved timeliness of immunizations.