Vaccinations of premature infants are often delayed despite being at an increased risk of contracting vaccine preventable diseases. This article reviews the current knowledge on the immune response to widely used vaccines, on the protection derived from routine immunization and on vaccine safety and tolerability in a population of preterm infants. Available data evaluating the immune response of preterm infants support early immunization without correction for gestational age. For a number of antigens, the antibody response to initial doses of vaccines may be lower than that of term infants, but protective concentrations are often achieved and memory successfully induced. Vaccines are immunogenic, safe and well tolerated in preterm infants. Preterm infants should be vaccinated using the same schedules as those usually recommended for full-term infants, with the exception of the hepatitis B vaccine, where additional doses should be administered in infants receiving the first dose during the first days of life if they weighed less than 2000 g because of a documented reduced immune response.
Keywords: immunization; neonate; preterm; vaccines.