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OBJECTIVE: The DTPw-HB/Hib pentavalent combination vaccine has been developed following recommendations of the World Health Organization for the introduction of hepatitis B (HB) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines into routine childhood vaccination programs. The objectives of this study were to: 1) analyze the immunogenicity and the reactogenicity of the DTPw-HB/Hib pentavalent combination vaccine in comparison to separate injections of DTPw-HB and Hib vaccines as primary vaccination in a group of children who had received a dose of HB vaccine at birth and 2) in the second year of life to assess the antibody persistence as well as the response to a DTPw-HB/Hib or DTPw/Hib booster. METHODS: In the first part of the study (primary-vaccination stage), conducted in 1998-1999, we analyzed the immunogenicity and reactogenicity of the DTPw-HB/Hib combination vaccine in comparison to separate injections of DTPw-HB and Hib vaccines as primary vaccination at 2, 4, and 6 months of age in 207 Costa Rican children who had received a dose of HB vaccine at birth. Later, in the booster-vaccination stage of the study, in 1999-2000, in a subset of the children (69 toddlers, now 15-18 months old), antibody persistence was measured, and response to a DTPw-HB/Hib or DTPw/Hib booster was also assessed. RESULTS: In both primary-vaccination groups, at least 97.5% of the infants reached protective levels of antibodies (seropositivity) against the antigens employed in the vaccines. The DTPw-HB/Hib pentavalent combination vaccine did not result in more local reactions than did the DTPw-HB vaccine alone, and, in terms of general reactions, there was no clinically significant difference between the combination or separate injections, and with the pentavalent vaccine having the benefit of needing one less injection. Nine months after the third dose of the primary-vaccination course, antibody persistence was similar in both groups, with over 93% of children still having protective/seropositive titers for Hib, HB, and tetanus and about 50% for diphtheria and Bordetella pertussis. At 15 months of age, virtually all the toddlers responded with a strong boost response to all the vaccine antigens, whether they received the DTPw-HB/Hib pentavalent vaccine or the DTPw/Hib vaccine as a booster. Both booster regimens were equally well tolerated, indicating that up to five doses of the HB vaccine can be given without impact on safety. CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms that the DTPw-HB/Hib pentavalent vaccine is highly immunogenic as a primary vaccination in children who received an HB vaccine at birth, with the pentavalent combination inducing both persisting immunity and boostable memory. The pentavalent vaccine was safe both for primary and booster vaccinations. Thus, this study in Costa Rican infants supports the routine use of the pentavalent DTPw-HB/Hib vaccine as part of childhood vaccination programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Original publication




Journal article


Rev Panam Salud Publica

Publication Date





247 - 257


Costa Rica, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine, Female, Haemophilus Vaccines, Hepatitis B Vaccines, Humans, Immunization, Secondary, Infant, Male, Prospective Studies, Vaccines, Combined