Influenza is an important cause of serious illness in very young children with cardiopulmonary disease. A 4-year study was conducted at two centers to assess immunogenicity and safety of influenza split-product vaccine in children aged 3 to 18 months with bronchopulmonary dysplasia and congenital heart disease. A total of 113 children were studied: 62 children 3 to 5 months of age and 51 children 6 to 18 months of age. Sera were drawn prior to first and second immunization and 3 weeks after second immunization and were tested by hemagglutination inhibition; protection was defined as >1:32. Ninety-five children were surveyed for adverse reactions. Seroresponses were age and antigen specific. Best responses for all ages were to A/Mississippi (H3N2) (97%). Children older than 6 months of age had better seroresponses to A/Leningrad (H3N2) (73%, P < .03) and B/Victoria (62%, P < .02) than did children younger than 6 months of age. Seroconversion rates to the remaining anere low. Only 9% of children experienced adverse reactions; all but one were mild. The immunologic mechanisms responsible for preventing serious influenzal disease and more effective immunization strategies need to be defined for very young high-risk children.

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