Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a live-attenuated vaccine usually contraindicated within the first 2 years of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT). The objective of this study was to assess the safety of MMR vaccine when administered within 2 years of HCT.
We conducted a retrospective review of patients who received MMR vaccination within 2 years of an autologous or allogeneic HCT, mostly in the context of the 2019 measles outbreak. Adverse reactions were collected for 42 days postvaccination, and all hospitalizations and deaths following vaccination were reviewed.
A total of 129 patients (75 autologous and 54 allogeneic HCT) were vaccinated 300-729 days after HCT (median, 718 days), and 39 (30%) of these were vaccinated earlier than 23 months post-transplant. Ten adverse reactions in 7 patients (5%) were identified within 42 days of vaccination: 6 respiratory tract infections (3 with fever) and 1 rash. The rash was seen in a 37-year-old female who had an allogeneic HCT 542 days before vaccination. She presented with a centrifugal maculopapular rash, confirmed to be caused by the vaccine strain rubella virus. She fully recovered. No other vaccine-associated illness was identified in the cohort after a median follow-up of 676 days.
MMR vaccine appears to be well tolerated in select HCT recipients when given between 300 and 729 days after transplant. An uncomplicated case of vaccine-associated rubella illness was seen after vaccination. Assessment of potential risks and benefits of MMR vaccination given within 2 years of HCT remains important.