The MMWR Weekly for February 22, 2013 / Vol. 62 / No. 7, includes:
– Interim Adjusted Estimates of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2013
February 22, 2013 / 62(07);119-123
Editor’s Excerpt and Bolding
Early influenza activity during the 2012–13 season (1) enabled estimation of the unadjusted effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccine (2). This report presents updated adjusted estimates based on 2,697 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness (Flu VE) Network during December 3, 2012–January 19, 2013. During this period, overall vaccine effectiveness (VE) (adjusted for age, site, race/ethnicity, self-rated health, and days from illness onset to enrollment) against influenza A and B virus infections associated with medically attended acute respiratory illness was 56%, similar to the earlier interim estimate (62%) (2). VE was estimated as 47% against influenza A (H3N2) virus infections and 67% against B virus infections. When stratified by age group, the point estimates for VE against influenza A (H3N2) and B infections were largely consistent across age groups, with the exception that lower VE against influenza A (H3N2) was observed among adults aged ≥65 years. These adjusted VE estimates indicate that vaccination with the 2012–13 influenza season vaccine reduced the risk for outpatient medical visits resulting from influenza by approximately one half to two thirds for most persons, although VE was lower and not statistically significant among older adults. Antiviral medications should be used as recommended for treatment of suspected influenza in certain patients, including those aged ≥65 years, regardless of their influenza vaccination status…
…Among the patients with influenza, 32% had been administered the 2012–13 seasonal influenza vaccine, compared with 50% of the influenza-negative controls (Table 2). For all persons with medically attended acute respiratory illness, the overall VE (adjusted for age group, study site, race/ethnicity, self-rated health status, and days from illness onset to enrollment) against influenza A and B virus infections was 56% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 47%–63%) (Table 2). Significant VE against influenza A and B viruses was observed among persons in all age groups, except for adults aged ≥65 years.
These updated and age-adjusted VE estimates for the 2012–13 influenza vaccine confirm moderate effectiveness in preventing outpatient medical visits caused by circulating influenza viruses, similar to earlier unadjusted estimates in the United States (2) and to recent interim estimates from Canada and Europe (4,5). Overall, influenza vaccination reduced the risk for medical visits resulting from influenza A and B by 56%, from influenza A (H3N2) by 47%, and from influenza B by 67%. The preventive benefits against influenza B were consistent across age groups. The adjusted VE estimates against influenza A (H3N2) viruses also were largely consistent (46%–58%) for persons aged 6 months–64 years, but the estimate was not significant among persons aged ≥65 years. These VE estimates are not final; an increased sample size and adjustment for additional potential confounders (such as chronic medical conditions and functional status) at the end of the season could change these estimates.
Confirmation of the protective benefits of the 2012–13 influenza vaccine among persons aged 6 months–64 years offers further support for the public health benefit of annual seasonal influenza vaccination and supports the expansion of vaccination, particularly among younger age groups. The nonsignificant adjusted VE of 9% against A (H3N2) among persons aged ≥65 years is similar to the estimate in a recent interim report from Europe (6) and reinforces the need for continued advances in influenza vaccines, especially to increase protective benefits for older adults.
One possible explanation for these findings is that some older adults did not mount an effective immune response to the influenza A (H3N2) component of this season’s vaccine. Nonetheless, this finding should not discourage future vaccination by persons aged ≥65 years, who are at greater risk for more severe cases and complications from influenza. Influenza vaccines remain the best preventive tool available, and VE is known to vary by virus type/subtype, age group, season, host immunity, and the outcome measured (7). This study observed a VE point estimate against influenza B (67%) that was much higher than the 9% VE estimate against A (H3N2) among older adults, although the precision of estimates was limited by the small sample. Although some previous studies have shown influenza vaccine benefits for older adults, others have failed to demonstrate statistically significant benefits against specific influenza types or subtypes (7). Variability among studies and across seasons and age groups is to be expected and should not change recommendations for annual vaccination. It is also important to note that the VE estimates in this report are limited to the prevention of outpatient medical visits, rather than more severe illness outcomes, such as hospitalization or death. A previous multiseason study found that the influenza vaccine reduced the risk for influenza-associated hospitalizations among older adults by 61% (CI = 18%–82%) (8). A full evaluation of the VE for older adults this season must await consideration of additional data and outcomes…
– Update: Influenza Activity — United States, September 30, 2012–February 9, 2013
– Updated Recommendations for Use of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid, and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap) in Pregnant Women — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2012