Fulminant bacterial sepsis has been described in patients with Hodgkin disease who have undergone splenectomy for staging purposes. The organisms commonly associated with sepsis in this setting include Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. Polyvalent pneumococcal vaccine (Merck) has recently been licensed and has been suggested for use in patients with Hodgkin disease who are at risk for postsplenectomy sepsis. We administered 14-valent pneumococcal vaccine to 24 patients with Hodgkin disease and 24 normal controls, and measured antibody response to 13 antigens at time of immunization and at 3 wk and 3 mo following immunization. Our results indicate that patients who have been previously treated for Hodgkin disease, with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both, have severe impairment of antibody response. Untreated patients, however, respond in a manner similar to normal controls.

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