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Background: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccines have demonstrated an impressive impact in diminishing Hib disease in industrialized countries. However, their high cost prompts nonindustrialized countries to corroborate their effectiveness under local conditions before considering their programmatic implementation. Such a postlicensure evaluation of vaccine effectiveness was undertaken in Chile.

Methods: After its licensure in Chile polyribosylribitol phosphate-tetanus toxoid protein conjugate vaccine (PRP-T), combined with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, was introduced into the Expanded Program on Immunization schedules in 36 health centers throughout metropolitan Santiago for 12 months, whereas 35 similar health centers administered only diphtheria-tetanus toxoid-pertussis vaccine. Bacteriologic surveillance data for invasive Hib cases collected over the ensuing 30 months were analyzed.

Results: In an intent-to-vaccinate (effectiveness) analysis, PRP-T provided 90.2% protection (95% confidence interval, 74.5 to 100%) against invasive Hib disease (40 vs. 4 cases, P < 0.001). Vaccine effectiveness was 91.3% against meningitis (22 vs. 2 cases) and 80% against pneumonia and empyema (10 vs. 2 cases, P = 0.039). Vaccine efficacy among infants who received all three doses of PRP-T was 91.7% (95% confidence interval, 64.8 to 100%).

Conclusions: Programmatic use of Hib conjugate vaccine administered in combination with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine constitutes a highly effective and practical intervention in Chile, a newly industrializing country.

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