Concern for respiratory decompensation after immunization in premature infants, particularly those with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), may lead to delayed and altered immunization schedules.


A retrospective cohort of premature infants at <32 weeks’ gestational age cared for in a tertiary level 4 NICU and immunized during their hospital stay were evaluated for respiratory decompensation within 72 hours of immunization. Respiratory measurements including change in respiratory support, mean fraction of inspired oxygen, and apnea, bradycardia, and desaturation events were compared between those infants with BPD and those without. The primary outcome was the difference in respiratory decompensation defined as a composite of increased respiratory support or increased fraction of inspired oxygen ≥10% within 72 hours of immunization.


Of 403 infants admitted to the NICU and immunized, 240 met the study criteria. Of those infants, 172 had a diagnosis of BPD. There was no difference in the primary outcome of respiratory decompensation after immunization between groups (P = .65). There was also no significant difference in apnea, bradycardia, and desaturation events between groups (P = .51).


In this cohort, respiratory decompensation requiring clinical intervention after immunization of preterm infants both with and without BPD was uncommon and not significantly different between groups. Consideration for immunization of this vulnerable population should not be delayed out of concern for clinical deterioration.

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