Arthus Reaction as an Adverse Event Following Tdap Vaccination

Vaccines (Basel). 2020 Jul 14;8(3):385. doi: 10.3390/vaccines8030385.


Repeat administration of tetanus toxoid-containing vaccines has rarely been associated with Arthus phenomenon, an immune-complex reaction. In the US, since 2013, tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccines (Tdap) have been recommended for administration during each pregnancy. Separately, in 2019, one Tdap was approved for repeat administration in adults in the US. We aimed to describe trends in spontaneously reported Arthus reactions following Tdap in the US and to assess the risk of this phenomenon in persons receiving Tdap repeatedly. We reviewed Arthus reports in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), 1990-2018. Reporting rates were estimated using Tdap doses distributed data. A systematic literature review was conducted in MEDLINE for any Arthus cases reported in Tdap clinical trials and observational studies published between 2000 and 2019. We found 192 Arthus reports in VAERS after any vaccine, of which 36 occurred after Tdap and none were reported during pregnancy. The Arthus reporting rate was estimated at 0.1 per million doses distributed. We identified eight published studies of Tdap administration within five years after a previous dose of tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine; no Arthus cases were reported. We conclude that Arthus reaction following Tdap is extremely rare. Increasing frequency of repeat Tdap administration in adults in the US did not result in a detectable increase in reporting rates of this phenomenon, confirming the favorable safety profile of Tdap.

Keywords: Arthus reaction; Tdap; VAERS; adverse event following immunization; reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine adsorbed; tetanus toxoid; type III immune complex mediated reaction.

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