The frequency of long-lasting, intensely itching subcutaneous nodules at the injection site for aluminium (Al)-adsorbed vaccines (vaccination granulomas) was investigated in a prospective cohort study comprising 4,758 children who received either a diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-polio-Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Infanrix®, Pentavac®) alone or concomitant with a pneumococcal conjugate (Prevenar). Both vaccines were adsorbed to an Al adjuvant. Altogether 38 children (0.83 %) with itching granulomas were identified, epicutaneously tested for Al sensitisation and followed yearly. Contact allergy to Al was verified in 85 %. The median duration of symptoms was 22 months in those hitherto recovered. The frequency of granulomas induced by Infanrix® was >0.66 % and by Prevenar >0.35 %. The risk for granulomas increased from 0.63 to 1.18 % when a second Al-adsorbed vaccine was added to the schedule.
Conclusion: Long-lasting itching vaccination granulomas are poorly understood but more frequent than previously known after infant vaccination with commonly used diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-polio-Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. The risk increases with the number of vaccines given. Most children with itching granulomas become contact allergic to aluminium. Itching vaccination granulomas are benign but may be troublesome and should be recognised early in primary health care to avoid unnecessary investigations, anxiety and mistrust.