New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 361 — September 24, 2009 — Number 13
Comparative Efficacy of Inactivated and Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccines
A. S. Monto and Others
The efficacy of influenza vaccines may vary from year to year, depending on a variety of factors, and may differ for inactivated and live attenuated vaccines.
We carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of licensed inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines in healthy adults during the 2007–2008 influenza season and estimated the absolute and relative efficacies of the two vaccines.
A total of 1952 subjects were enrolled and received study vaccines in the fall of 2007. Influenza activity occurred from January through April 2008, with the circulation of influenza types A (H3N2) (about 90%) and B (about 9%). Absolute efficacy against both types of influenza, as measured by isolating the virus in culture, identifying it on real-time polymerase-chain-reaction assay, or both, was 68% (95% confidence interval [CI], 46 to 81) for the inactivated vaccine and 36% (95% CI, 0 to 59) for the live attenuated vaccine. In terms of relative efficacy, there was a 50% (95% CI, 20 to 69) reduction in laboratory-confirmed influenza among subjects who received inactivated vaccine as compared with those given live attenuated vaccine. The absolute efficacy against the influenza A virus was 72% (95% CI, 49 to 84) for the inactivated vaccine and 29% (95% CI, –14 to 55) for the live attenuated vaccine, with a relative efficacy of 60% (95% CI, 33 to 77) for the inactivated vaccine.
In the 2007–2008 season, the inactivated vaccine was efficacious in preventing laboratory-confirmed symptomatic influenza A (predominately H3N2) in healthy adults. The live attenuated vaccine also prevented influenza illnesses but was less efficacious. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00538512 [ClinicalTrials.gov] .)