Children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). We assessed immunity to S. pneumoniae among children after ALL treatment, and the impact of pneumococcal immunization during and after chemotherapy.
We performed an observational retrospective study of children treated for ALL at a single center. All children were fully immunized with three routine doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) prior to ALL diagnosis. Children from Group 1 received a 13-valent PCV (PCV13) dose during the maintenance phase as well as a PCV13 booster after completing chemotherapy, while Group 2 only received the postchemotherapy dose. Serologic testing was performed after chemotherapy and again after the postchemotherapy dose. A serotype-specific antibody level ≥0.35 μg/ml was considered protective, and patients with protective levels for ≥70% of serotypes in the PCV7 vaccine were defined as seroprotected.
A total of 71 children (median age 46 months, range 12-160) were included. At the end of chemotherapy, 53.1% of children in Group 1 (17/32) and 25.6% in Group 2 (10/39) were seroprotected (p = .018). After the postchemotherapy booster, seroprotection rates increased to 96.9% in Group 1 (31/32) and 100% in Group 2.
Rates of pneumococcal seroprotection among children with ALL are low following chemotherapy, despite prior routine immunization. A PCV booster during chemotherapy may shorten the period of susceptibility to IPD in some children. However, irrespective of a booster during chemotherapy, a PCV dose postchemotherapy appears sufficient to confer high rates of seroprotection against IPD.

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