Infection is a main concern after haemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and a major cause of transplant-related mortality. Some of these infections are preventable by vaccination. Most HSCT recipients lose their immunity to various pathogens as soon as the first months after transplant, irrespective of the pre-transplant donor or recipient vaccinations. Vaccination with inactivated vaccines is safe after transplantation and is an effective way to reinstate protection from various pathogens (eg, influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae), especially for pathogens whose risk of infection is increased by the transplant procedure. The response to vaccines in patients with transplants is usually lower than that in healthy individuals of the same age during the first months or years after transplant, but it improves over time to become close to normal 2–3 years after the procedure. However, because immunogenic vaccines have been found to induce a response in a substantial proportion of the patients as early as 3 months after transplant, we recommend to start crucial vaccinations with inactivated vaccines from 3 months after transplant, irrespectively of whether the patient has or has not developed graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) or received immunosuppressants. Patients with GvHD have higher risk of infection and are likely to benefit from vaccination. Another challenge is to provide HSCT recipients the same level of vaccine protection as healthy individuals of the same age in a given country. The use of live attenuated vaccines should be limited to specific situations because of the risk of vaccine-induced disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases