Adaptive immune responses to booster vaccination against yellow fever virus are much reduced compared to those after primary vaccination

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Outbreaks of Yellow Fever occur regularly in endemic areas of Africa and South America frequently leading to mass vaccination campaigns straining the availability of the attenuated Yellow Fever vaccine, YF-17D. The WHO has recently decided to discontinue regular booster-vaccinations since a single vaccination is deemed to confer life-long immune protection. Here, we have examined humoral (neutralizing antibody) and cellular (CD8 and CD4 T cell) immune responses in primary and booster vaccinees (the latter spanning 8 to 36 years after primary vaccination). After primary vaccination, we observed strong cellular immune responses with T cell activation peaking ≈2 weeks and subsiding to background levels ≈ 4 weeks post-vaccination. The number of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells declined over the following years. In >90% of vaccinees, in vitro expandable T cells could still be detected >10 years post-vaccination. Although most vaccinees responded to a booster vaccination, both the humoral and cellular immune responses observed following booster vaccination were strikingly reduced compared to primary responses. This suggests that pre-existing immunity efficiently controls booster inoculums of YF-17D. In a situation with epidemic outbreaks, one could argue that a more efficient use of a limited supply of the vaccine would be to focus on primary vaccinations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number662
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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