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Immunization of renal transplant recipients with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

BACKGROUND: Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common pathogen leading to pneumonia, is a cause of morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients. Vaccination against this agent can be recommended for immunosuppressed patients, including those with chronic renal failure, nephrotic syndrome and renal transplant recipients; however, a diminished immune response and loss of protective antibodies have been observed.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In our prospective study, the efficacy and side effects of polyvalent pneumococcal vaccination were investigated in renal transplant recipients. A total of 21 patients (6 female, 15 male) with well-functioning renal allografts, who had transplant surgery at least 2 months before, were included in the study. The patients were stratified according to the immunosuppressive protocol and 8 received double, while 13 received triple, immunosuppressive agents. After obtaining basal serum samples, all cases were vaccinated with the 0.5 mL intramuscular administration of polyvalent polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumo 23 Pasteur Merieux, lot No: K 1131).

RESULTS: Following a mean of 6 wk in all patients and also a mean of 12 wk in 12 patients, serum samples were again obtained to measure pneumococcal antibodies. Antibody titers following 6 and 12 wk of vaccination were significantly higher, as compared with basal values in all patients, except one. These titers did not show any statistically significant difference between double and triple therapies. There was no significant difference between the 12th and 6th wk postvaccination antibody titers. No systemic or local adverse effects were observed.

CONCLUSION: Pneumococcal vaccination is safe and effective in patients with well-functioning renal allografts, at least in the short term. This vaccination policy may be useful for preventing invasive pneumococcal disease in immunosuppressed patients.

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