In March 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed an inactivated, Vero cell culture-derived Japanese encephalitis vaccine (JE-VC [Ixiaro]) for use in adults. The vaccine was licensed based on clinical trial safety data in 3558 JE-VC recipients. It is essential to monitor post-licensure surveillance data to evaluate the safety of JE-VC because rare adverse events may not be detected until the vaccine is administered to a larger population.
We reviewed adverse events reported to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for adults (≥17 years) who received JE-VC from May 2009 through April 2012. Adverse event reporting rates were calculated using 275,848 JE-VC doses distributed.
Over the 3 year period, 42 adverse events following vaccination with JE-VC were reported to VAERS for an overall reporting rate of 15.2 adverse events per 100,000 doses distributed. Of the 42 total reports, 5 (12%) were classified as serious for a reporting rate of 1.8 per 100,000 doses distributed; there were no deaths. Hypersensitivity reactions (N=12) were the most commonly reported type of adverse event, with a rate of 4.4 per 100,000 doses distributed; no cases of anaphylaxis were reported. Three adverse events of the central nervous system were reported (one case of encephalitis and two seizures) for a rate of 1.1 per 100,000; all occurred after receipt of JE-VC with other vaccines.
These post-marketing surveillance data suggest a good safety profile for JE-VC consistent with findings from pre-licensure clinical trials. Post-licensure safety data should continue to be monitored for any evidence of rare serious or neurologic adverse events.