Non-protective immunity after standard pneumococcal vaccination series identified as a potential contributing risk factor for refractory otolaryngologic conditions in children

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Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology


Objective: To examine the relationship between conferred immunity after standard pneumococcal series and refractory otolaryngologic infections in pediatric patients using post-vaccination antibody titers, and to identify contributory underlying conditions revealed when vaccination/re-vaccination fails to confer protective immunity. Study Design: IRB-reviewed and “exempt” retrospective case series with chart review using the Epic® Electronic Medical Record system from 2013 to 2021. Setting: Dedicated tertiary referral children’s hospital. Methods: Pneumococcal antibody titer results were assessed for children ages 0 to 21 years and: (1) at least 1 of 7 otolaryngologic disease diagnoses and (2) having received the 4-dose schedule of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV 7 or 13). Results: A total of 241 subjects met inclusion criteria with 356 laboratory tests. Recurrent acute otitis media, chronic rhinitis, and chronic otitis media with effusion were the 3 most frequent diagnoses. At presentation, only 27.0% of subjects had titers conferring immunity from their prior vaccinations with PCV. About 85 subjects had been subsequently revaccinated with Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV), and antibody responses conferring immunity reached 91.8%. Seven subjects never developed adequate responses; 5 of these had recurrent acute otitis media as the primary otolaryngologic diagnosis. Secondary “revealed” diagnoses included Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (n = 1), unresolved specific antibody deficiency (n = 2), and Hypogammaglobulinemia (n = 1). Conclusion: In pediatric patients with recurrent infectious otolaryngologic disease refractory to traditional medical and surgical therapy, inadequate responses to pneumococcal vaccination may be revealed. This correlation represents a potential pathway for diagnosis and therapy.

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