Hexavalent vaccine added to VFC program
Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to include all parts of a hexavalent vaccine — DTaP, polio, Hemophilus influenzae B and hepatitis B — in the Vaccines for Children, or VFC, program.
The vote allows DTaP-IPV-Hib-HepB to be included in the infant series at ages 2, 4 and 6 months through the program, which provides immunizations at no cost to children whose families cannot afford vaccination.
Although the vaccine was approved and licensed by the FDA in December 2018, the manufacturers — Merck and Sanofi Pasteur — said it will not be commercially available until 2021. The ACIP work group on combination vaccines stressed that no changes are to be made to immunization recommendations at this time. Instead, the work group and other members of the committee suggested that more data are needed on the immunogenicity of DTaP-IPV-Hib-HepB before considering a recommendation for its use.
“The additional combination vaccine will not alter the established vaccination schedule,” Sara Oliver, MD, MSPH, an EIS officer at the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in her presentation. “As the vaccine is only licensed for the priority series at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and not for booster doses, there will need to be additional considerations for having additional product or products available for booster doses.”
Oliver said the use of multiple vaccines can result in parents deferring doses, making a single, combination vaccine advantageous.
“The receipt of at least one combination vaccine has been found to be associated with improved coverage rates both among individual vaccines as well as for completion of the full infant series,” she added.
It was announced in the meeting that an MMWR policy note related to the hexavalent vaccine will be published later this year. – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosure: Oliver reports no relevant financial disclosures.