- According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, preterm and low birth weight infants are at increased risk of infections in general and suffer from an increased frequency and severity of vaccine-preventable infections.(1)
- In Colombia, according to DANE, the percentage of premature babies was 11.0% in 2022, up 4 percentage points from 2021. At the same time, for every 1000 live births, there are 104.4 newborns weighing less than 2500 g.(2)
Vaccines are the world’s safest method of protecting children from deadly diseases; this is stated by the World Health Organization (WHO).(3) In the case of premature babies, vaccination becomes more relevant as they have not completed their developmental process and have not undergone full intrauterine immunological maturation, therefore, they will be exposed to the Colombian Association of Neonatology (ASCON) ( 4), which will hold its VIII National Congress from August 16 to 18, warns of an increased risk of contracting serious illnesses, complications or the need for hospitalization.
In Colombia, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) reports, in 2022, live births less than 37 weeks of gestation will account for 11.0% of the total number of births registered that year, 0.4 percentage points higher than those registered in 2021. At the same time, for every 1000 live births, there are 104.4 newborns with low birth weight, that is, with a body weight of less than 2500 grams2.
Because of these two conditions, underweight and prematurity, infants can suffer more frequently and severely from vaccine-preventable infections, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is why it is important to vaccinate this group of newborns on time. and it causes the fewest possible side effects.1
In this sense, it is worth noting the relevance of combined acellular vaccines, such as the hexavalent one, to mitigate the side effects of vaccination and protect against six diseases with a single biological action, such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type B. , hepatitis B and polio; In addition, they can represent economic savings for a country.
Cell-free vaccines are vaccines containing cell fractions of bacteria. Bordetella whooping cough, the agent responsible for the occurrence of whooping cough. The Colombian Red Cross explains that “by leaving only the important parts of these bacteria, side effects are reduced and the immune system is activated and the number of defenses increases. For this reason, cell-free vaccines are considered a less painful alternative that retains the benefits of traditional vaccines and protects the child” (5).
According to Dr. Ofelina Vergara, Sanofi Vaccines Medical Manager in the COPAC Region, AndThis type of vaccine brings significant benefits to all stakeholders:
- In newborns, this improves adherence and punctuality to the vaccination schedule, causes fewer adverse reactions, and reduces pain and discomfort.
- For parents, this means less visits to health centers, allowing them to spend that time doing other things and significantly reducing anxiety symptoms.
- In front of healthcare workers and nurses, this allows for fewer mistakes in administering biologics and improves the efficiency of daily practice.
- And for public health, it allows for increased vaccination coverage, generates fewer potential outbreaks, reduces vaccination costs, and, among other things, facilitates inventory and cold chain management.
Benefits of the hexavalent acellular vaccine
Various experts agree that the use of combined cell-free vaccines represents important benefits both for the public health system and for the experience of vaccinating premature babies or newborns.
Doctor and researcher Martin Romero from the Fundación Salutia Center for Economic Research, Management and Health in Bogota noted that in Cost-Minimization Study and Budgetary Analysis of Hexavalent EPI Implementation At the national level, it has been determined that if a fully liquid hexavalent combination vaccine is used, all hidden costs associated with the vaccination process will be reduced, which will affect the effectiveness of the Plan. And he stressed that there would be a savings of $1.7 million per year in immunization against infectious diseases using the hexavalent acellular vaccine in preterm infants. (6)
Besides, Dr. Ofelina Vergara emphasizes that “by vaccinating preterm infants with this 6 in 1 biologic, significant cost savings are associated with managing adverse, logistical and social events, reducing the overall cost of vaccination by 19%. In fact, it states that for every premature baby vaccinated with the hexavalent primary (3+0) regimen, about 220,000 Colombian pesos ($67) will be saved.”6
Regarding the vaccination process, ASCON emphasizes that the hexavalent vaccine, which provides protection against six pathologies, “represents the best option to guarantee a more rigorous adherence to the PAI scheme for infants with a history of prematurity in our country. This vaccine reduces the pain of multiple punctures and the number of side effects such as bouts of crying, hypotension, acute symptoms of fever, convulsions or apnea” (7).
(1) Vaccination of premature babies. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082954/.
(2) Vital statistics. Childbirth in Colombia. Available at: https://www.dane.gov.co/files/investigaciones/poblacion/bt_estadisticasvitales_nacimientos_IVtrim_2022pr.pdf. p. 32; Page 35
(3) Immunization. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/es/inmunizacion.
(4) Why vaccinate premature babies. Available at: https://www.ascon.org.co/vacunas-poderosas/.
(5) Reason why you should vaccinate your children with pediatric acellular vaccines. Available at: https://www.cruzrojabogota.org.co/post/la-razon-por-la-que-deberias-proteger-a-tus-hijos-con-vacunas-pediatricas-acelulares.
(6) Martin Romero et al., Value Health Issues-2021.26© 150-159; Cost minimization and budget impact analysis of the hexavalent vaccine in Colombia’s Expanded Program on Immunization. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34474265/.
(7) Consensus issued by the Colombian Association of Neonatologists, on the basis of which they developed recommendations. Available at https://ascon.org.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Consenso-vacunacion-RN-prematuro.pdf/