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The responses of Aboriginal Canadians to adjuvanted pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccine

Ethan Rubinstein, Gerrald Predy, Laura Sauvé, Greg W. Hammond, Fred Aoki, Chris Sikora, Yan Li, Barbara Law, Scott Halperin, David Scheifele


Background: Because many Aboriginal Canadians had severe cases of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza, they were given priority access to vaccine. However, it was not known if the single recommended dose would adequately protect people at high risk, prompting our study to assess responses to the vaccine among Aboriginal Canadians.Methods: We enrolled First Nations and Métis adults aged 20–59 years in our prospective cohort study. Participants were given one 0.5-mL dose of ASO3-adjuvanted pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccine (Arepanrix, GlaxoSmith-Kline Canada). Blood samples were taken at baseline and 21–28 days after vaccination. Paired sera were tested for hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies at a reference laboratory. To assess vaccine safety, we monitored the injection site symptoms of each participant for seven days. We also monitored patients for general symptoms within 7 days of vaccination and any use of the health care system for 21–28 days after vaccination.

Results: We enrolled 138 participants in the study (95 First Nations, 43 Métis), 137 of whom provided all safety data and 136 of whom provided both blood samples. First Nations and Métis participants had similar characteristics, including high rates of chronic health conditions (74.4%–76.8%). Pre-existing antibody to the virus was detected in 34.3% of the participants, all of whom boosted strongly with vaccination (seroprotection rate [titre ≥ 40] 100%, geometric mean titre 531–667). Particpants with no pre-existing antibody also responded well. Fifty-eight of 59 (98.3%) First Nations participants showed seroprotection and a geometric mean titre of 353.6; all 30 Métis participants with no pre-existing antibody showed seroprotection and a geometric mean titre of 376.2. Pain at the injection site and general symptoms frequently occurred but were shortlived and generally not severe, although three participants (2.2%) sought medical attention for general symptoms.

Interpretation: First Nations and Métis adults responded robustly to ASO3-adjuvanted pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccine. Virtually all participants showed protective titres, including those with chronic health conditions.

Trial registration: trial register no. NCT.01001026.

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