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BACKGROUND: Protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C were introduced into the U.K. routine immunization schedule in 1999. This study is the first to describe both persistence of antibody and evidence for induction of immune memory using meningococcal C conjugate (MCC) vaccine in preterm infants. METHODS: Immunogenicity and induction of immunologic memory by as MCC vaccine was assessed in premature infants; 62 preterm and 60 term controls received MCC at the accelerated schedule (2, 3 and 4 months of age). A meningococcal C polysaccharide challenge was administered at 12 months of age. RESULTS: Both groups achieved similar protective titers after primary immunization that then waned significantly by 1 year of age. Postchallenge serum bactericidal activity was significantly lower in preterm infants (P = 0.03); 73% of preterm versus 88% of term controls achieved a 4-fold rise in serum bactericidal activity (P = 0.07). CONCLUSIONS: MCC vaccine is immunogenic and primes for immunologic memory in preterm infants. The decreased memory responses in these preterm infants in conjunction with waning clinical efficacy data for all U.K. infants suggest a role for a routine booster dose of vaccine in all infants receiving MCC, especially those born preterm.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatr Infect Dis J

Publication Date





966 - 968


Antibodies, Bacterial, Bacterial Vaccines, Blood Bactericidal Activity, Female, Humans, Immunization, Secondary, Immunologic Memory, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Premature, Male, Meningococcal Vaccines, Neisseria meningitidis, Prospective Studies