Objective This study aimed to evaluate palivizumab (PVZ) use, trends in indications, and outcomes of respiratory illness hospitalizations (RIH) and respiratory syncytial virus hospitalizations (RSVH).
Study Design It involves a large, Canadian prospective (2005–2017) observational multicenter study of children at high risk for RSV infection.
Results A total of 25,003 infants (56.3% male) were enrolled at 32 sites; 109,579 PVZ injections were administered. Indications included: prematurity (63.3%); “miscellaneous” (17.8%); hemodynamically significant congenital heart disease (10.5%); bronchopulmonary dysplasia/chronic lung disease (8.4%). The “miscellaneous” group increased over time (4.4% in 2005–2006 to 22.5% in 2016–2017) and included: trisomy 21, airway anomalies, pulmonary disorders, cystic fibrosis, neurological impairments, immunocompromised, cardiac aged >2 years, multiple conditions, and a residual “unclassified” group. Adherence measured by expected versus actual doses plus correct interdose interval was 64.7%. A total of 2,054 RIH occurred (6.9%); 198 (9.6%) required intubation. Three hundred thirty-seven hospitalized children were RSV-positive (overall RSVH 1.6%). Risk factors for RSVH included having siblings, attending daycare, family history of atopy, smoking exposure, and crowded household. Infants with 5 risk factors were 9.0 times (95% CI or confidence interval 4.4–18.2; p < 0.0005) more likely to have RSVH than infants without risk factors. Three adverse events occurred; none were fatal.
Conclusion Results are relevant to both clinicians and decision-makers. We confirmed the safety of PVZ. Use of PVZ increased steadily for children with miscellaneous conditions and medical complexity. Medical and social factors pose a risk for severe RIH and RSVH with accompanying burden of illness. A vaccine that protects against RSV is urgently required.