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Effects of sex and birth weight on non-specific health services use following whole-cell pertussis vaccination a self-controlled case series analysis

Hawken S, Ducharme R, Fell DB, Oron AP, Wilson K. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2019; Mar 4 [Epub ahead of print].

Previous studies from low-resource countries have highlighted concerns surrounding non-specific effects of whole-cell pertussis vaccination, particularly in females. We sought to examine the effects of sex and birth weight on health services utilization following first exposure to whole-cell pertussis vaccine. Using a self-controlled case series design and by calculating relative incidence ratios (RIRs), we compared the relative incidence of emergency department visits and/or hospital admissions between sexes and between birth weight quintiles. Females had a higher relative incidence of events following vaccination compared to males (RIR = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.30), which persisted after adjustment for birth weight (RIR = 1.12, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.28). We also observed a trend of increasing relative incidence of events over decreasing quintiles of birth weight; infants in the lowest quintile had a 26% higher relative event rate compared to the highest quintile, which was robust to adjustment for sex (Unadjusted RIR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.56; Adjusted RIR = 1.23, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.53). The risk of all-cause health services utilization immediately following vaccination, was elevated in female infants and infants having lower birth weight. Further study is warranted to determine if vaccine dosing should take infant weight into account.