Kawasaki disease and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination among young children: A self-controlled risk interval and cohort study with null results

PLoS Med. 2019 Jul 2;16(7):e1002844. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002844. eCollection 2019 Jul.


Background: Kawasaki disease is an acute vasculitis that primarily affects children younger than 5 years of age. Its etiology is unknown. The United States Vaccine Safety Datalink conducted postlicensure safety surveillance for 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), comparing the risk of Kawasaki disease within 28 days of PCV13 vaccination with the historical risk after 7-valent PCV (PCV7) vaccination and using chart-validation. A relative risk (RR) of 2.38 (95% CI 0.92-6.38) was found. Concurrently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a postlicensure safety review that identified cases of Kawasaki disease through adverse event reporting. The FDA decided to initiate a larger study of Kawasaki disease risk following PCV13 vaccination in the claims-based Sentinel/Postlicensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring (PRISM) surveillance system. The objective of this study was to determine the existence and magnitude of any increased risk of Kawasaki disease in the 28 days following PCV13 vaccination.

Methods and findings: The study population included mostly commercially insured children from birth to <24 months of age in 2010 to 2015 from across the US. Using claims data of participating Sentinel/PRISM data-providing organizations, PCV13 vaccinations were identified by means of current procedural terminology (CPT), Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), and National Drug Code (NDC) codes. Potential cases of Kawasaki disease were identified by first-in-365-days International Classification of Diseases 9th revision (ICD-9) code 446.1 or International Classification of Diseases 10th revision (ICD-10) code M30.3 in the inpatient setting. Medical records were sought for potential cases and adjudicated by board-certified pediatricians. The primary analysis used chart-confirmed cases with adjudicated symptom onset in a self-controlled risk interval (SCRI) design, which controls for time-invariant potential confounders. The prespecified risk interval was Days 1-28 after vaccination; a 28-day-long control interval followed this risk interval. A secondary analytic approach used a cohort design, with alternative potential risk intervals of Days 1-28 and Days 1-42. The varying background risk of Kawasaki disease by age was adjusted for in both designs. In the primary analysis, there were 43 confirmed cases of Kawasaki disease in the risk interval and 44 in the control interval. The age-adjusted risk estimate was 1.07 (95% CI 0.70-1.63; p = 0.76). In the secondary, cohort analyses, which included roughly 700 potential cases and more than 3 million person-years, the risk estimates of potential Kawasaki disease in the risk interval versus in unexposed person-time were 0.84 (95% CI 0.65-1.08; p = 0.18) for the Days 1-28 risk interval and 0.97 (95% CI 0.79-1.19; p = 0.80) for the Days 1-42 risk interval. The main limitation of the study was that we lacked the resources to conduct medical record review for all the potential cases of Kawasaki disease. As a result, potential cases rather than chart-confirmed cases were used in the cohort analyses.

Conclusions: With more than 6 million doses of PCV13 administered, no evidence was found of an association between PCV13 vaccination and Kawasaki disease onset in the 4 weeks after vaccination nor of an elevated risk extending or concentrated somewhat beyond 4 weeks. These null results were consistent across alternative designs, age-adjustment methods, control intervals, and categories of Kawasaki disease case included.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Patient Safety
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Vaccination / adverse effects*


  • 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines