Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Pediatric Palliative Care – A Multicenter Cross-Sectional Study



      Vaccine preventable diseases lead to distressful symptoms and complications among pediatric patients receiving specialized home palliative care. There was no data on the vaccination compliance.


      The objective was to determine the vaccination coverage, discuss the relevance of vaccinations and provide vaccination recommendations in pediatric palliative care.


      Vaccination data were compared in a multicenter cross-sectional study. Expert interviews were conducted to evaluate symptom burden. The vaccination status of patients treated by six German pediatric specialized home palliative care teams was recorded from January 2019 to December 2019. The data were compared to the national immunization schedule and the vaccination rate of a representative German pediatric cohort. Onset of missed vaccination was compared to the date of diagnosis of the life-limiting condition. A risk score was calculated to evaluate the relevance of each individual vaccinations.


      Vaccination rates of Tdpa, haemophilus influenzae type B, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal diseases type C, and MMR were lower compared to healthy controls. There were no significant differences in varicella. In most cases the discontinuation of recommended immunizations occurred after diagnosis of the palliative condition. Influenza had the highest risk score and was the most frequent vaccine preventable disease in retrospective data. This paper includes a pragmatic proposal for the management of vaccination in this vulnerable population.


      Children and adolescents with life-limiting conditions are at increased risk of vaccine preventable diseases. Individual vaccination counselling is recommended.

      Key Words


      HepB (hepatitis B), HiB (haemophilus influenzae type b), HPV (human papillomavirus), ICD (International Classification of Diseases), KiGGS (Study on the Health of Children and Adolescents in Germany), MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), WHO (World Health Organization)
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