Vaccinations in children on immunosuppressive medications for renal disease
Renal diseases are often treated with immunosuppressive medications, placing patients at risk of infections, some of which are vaccine-preventable. However, in such patients vaccinations may be delayed or disregarded due to complications of the underlying disease process and challenges in its management. The decision to administer vaccines to immunosuppressed children is a risk–benefit balance as such children may have a qualitatively diminished immunological response or develop diseases caused by the vaccine pathogen. Vaccination may cause a flare-up of disease activity or provocation of graft rejection in renal transplant recipients. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that a given antibody level provides the same protection in immunosupressed children as in healthy ones. We have evaluated the safety and efficacy of licensed vaccines in children on immunosuppressive therapy and in renal transplant recipients. The limited evidence available suggests that vaccines are most effective if given early, ideally before the requirement for immunosuppressive therapy, which may require administration of accelerated vaccine courses. Once treatment with immunosuppressive drugs is started, inactivated vaccines are usually considered to be safe when the disease is quiescent, but supplemental doses may be required. In the majority of cases, live vaccines are to be avoided. All vaccines are generally contraindicated within 3–6 months of a renal transplant.