Hepatitis A Immunity and Paediatric Liver Transplantation : A Single-Centre Analysis

Following paediatric solid organ liver transplantation, risk of infection is high, both in the short and long term. Even though an infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV) is often asymptomatic and self-limited in children, some case studies describe severe cases leading to death. Vaccinations offer simple, safe and cheap protection. However, data on vaccination rates against hepatitis A in children with liver disease are scarce. Moreover, the vaccine is only approved from the age of one year old. At the same time, up to 30% of children with liver disease are transplanted within the first year of life, so the window of opportunity for vaccination is limited. This retrospective, observational, single-centre study examines the HAV immunity in paediatric liver transplant recipients before and after the first year of transplantation. Vaccination records of 229 of 279 (82.1%) children transplanted between January 2003 and June 2021 were analysed. Of 139 eligible children aged ≥ 1 year old, only 58 (41.7%) were vaccinated at least with one HAV dose prior to transplantation. In addition, seven patients received the vaccine below one year of age. After one or two doses, 38.5% or 90.6% of 65 patients were anti-HAV-IgG positive, respectively. This percentage remained stable up to the first annual check-up. For children vaccinated only once, a shorter interval from vaccination to transplantation is a risk factor for lack of immunity. Thus, HAV immunisation should be started earlier in liver transplant candidates to improve immunity in this high-risk group.


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