The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the seasonal influenza vaccine prevented over 40,000 influenza-associated deaths in the U.S. during 2005–2006 through 2013–2014. The new study is published in the journal Vaccine.

Seasonal influenza-associated deaths range between 3,000–49,000 people each year. Children <5 years old and adults ≥65 years old usually account for the majority of influenza-associated deaths and have the highest influenza-associated hospitalization rates.

Researchers used statistical modeling with 4 age-group (0.5–4 years, 5–19 years, 20–64 years, and ≥65 years) specific estimates of influenza-associated excess deaths, estimates of monthly influenza vaccination coverage, and estimates of summary seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness. Overall, the study showed that the influenza vaccine led to a 22% reduction in the deaths that would have occurred without the vaccine. Nearly 89% of influenza-associated deaths prevented were in people ≥65 years old (95% CI: 83–92.5%). Children aged 6 months–4 years had the greatest benefit from the influnenza vaccine in the percentage of deaths averted.

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The greatest prevention was seen during the 2012–2013 season with nearly 9,400 deaths prevented by vaccination (95% CI: 2,386–19,897) even though the vaccine efficacy was modest that season. The least prevention was seen during the 2009 pandemic with 222 deaths prevented by vaccination (95% CI: 79–347). This may have been due to the fact that the 2009 monovalent pandemic vaccine did not become widely accessible until after the peak of influenza.

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