Inactivated influenza virus vaccine efficacy after annual revaccination has been reported to be less than that after first vaccination in boarding school children. We prospectively examined the immunogenicity and efficacy of this vaccine in healthy 30- to 60-year-old volunteers in Houston, Texas, over two epidemic seasons (1983-1985) encompassing outbreaks due to influenza A (H3N2 and H1N1) and influenza B viruses. A placebo group that had never (or not in recent years) received inactivated influenza virus vaccine, a group that received the vaccine for the first time (first vac), and a group given two or more recent vaccinations (multivac) were evaluated in a double-blind fashion each year. Vaccination induced higher frequencies of rise in serum antibody titer to vaccine components in first vac than in multivac volunteers, but mean postvaccination titers were similar. Clinical and virologic evaluations of illnesses during both epidemics and of influenza infections diagnosed serologically over the epidemic seasons revealed no overall reduction in illness from that in the placebo group for either vaccine group; modest reductions in influenza infection-related illness that were significant only for the multivac group against A/H3N2-related illness (55%; p less than 0.04); reduction in moderate-to-severe lower respiratory and/or systemic illness due to influenza for multivac (73%, p less than 0.025) but not first vac (15%, p greater than 0.10) volunteers during the A/H3N2 epidemic; reduction in influenza virus shedding in the multivac (54%, p less than 0.05) but not the first vac (16%, p greater than 0.10) group when compared with the placebo group for both years; and overall 63-81% reductions in documented infections with each influenza virus for both vaccine groups with the exception of A/H1N1 for the first vac group (24%, p greater than 0.10) and type B for the multivac group (58%, p = 0.067). Vaccine efficacy was only modest in these studies, but in contrast to the earlier report in boarding school children, efficacy appeared to be somewhat greater after repeated annual vaccination than after first administration.
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