Long-term protection after immunization with protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines in infancy.
Blanchard-Rohner G., Pollard AJ.
The polysaccharide-encapsulated bacteria, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae are important causes of invasive bacterial infection in childhood, accounting for most of the cases of bacterial pneumonia and meningitis worldwide. Protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines have been developed over the last 20 years and have proven very effective in controlling these infections. Although studies have consistently shown that herd immunity is critical for population protection, long-term individual protection against polysaccharide-encapsulated bacteria appears to depend on persisting antibody and, perhaps to a lesser extent, immunological memory. However, some studies have reported that the concentration of serum antibody and vaccine effectiveness are not sustained after infant immunization, despite persistence of immunological memory. In this article, we detail the mechanisms of protection against invasion by encapsulated bacteria, describe the age-dependent B-cell and antibody responses to protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines and propose strategies to guarantee protection during periods of increased disease burden.