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Adapting Group Sequential Methods to Observational Postlicensure Vaccine Safety Surveillance: Results of a Pentavalent Combination DTaP-IPV-Hib Vaccine Safety Study

To address gaps in traditional postlicensure vaccine safety surveillance and to promote rapid signal identification, new prospective monitoring systems using large health-care database cohorts have been developed. We newly adapted clinical trial group sequential methods to this observational setting in an original safety study of a combination diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis adsorbed (DTaP), inactivated poliovirus (IPV), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine (DTaP-IPV-Hib) among children within the Vaccine Safety Datalink population. For each prespecified outcome, we conducted 11 sequential Poisson-based likelihood ratio tests during September 2008-January 2011 to compare DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccinees with historical recipients of other DTaP-containing vaccines. No increased risk was detected among 149,337 DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccinees versus historical comparators for any outcome, including medically attended fever, seizure, meningitis/encephalitis/myelitis, nonanaphylactic serious allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, or invasive Hib disease. In end-of-study prespecified subgroup analyses, risk of medically attended fever was elevated among 1- to 2-year-olds who received DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine versus historical comparators (relative risk = 1.83, 95% confidence interval: 1.34, 2.50) but not among infants under 1 year old (relative risk = 0.83, 95% confidence interval: 0.73, 0.94). Findings were similar in analyses with concurrent comparators who received other DTaP-containing vaccines during the study period. Although lack of a controlled experiment presents numerous challenges, implementation of group sequential monitoring methods in observational safety surveillance studies is promising and warrants further investigation.

Authors: Nelson JC; Klein NP; Jackson LA; et al.

Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jan 15;177(2):131-41. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

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