Flu Vaccines Have High Impact, Even With Relatively Low Efficacy

High impact seen, especially when the vaccine uptake is optimally distributed across age groups
High impact seen, especially when the vaccine uptake is optimally distributed across age groups

HealthDay News — Even relatively low-efficacy influenza vaccines can have a high impact, especially with optimal distribution across age groups, according to a study published online April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In order to examine the optimal age-specific uptake of low-efficacy vaccine that would minimize incidence, hospitalization, mortality, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), Pratha Sah, PhD, from Yale School of Public Health in New Haven. Connecticut, and colleagues applied an optimization algorithm to a mathematical model of influenza transmission and vaccination in the United States. 

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The researchers found that even relatively low-efficacy influenza vaccines can have a high impact, especially with optimal distribution across age groups. In order to minimize mortality and DALYs, the optimal distribution of the vaccine uptake shifts toward the elderly as vaccine efficacy declines.

"Our results demonstrate that vaccines can have substantial epidemiological impact even when efficacy is low," the authors write. "In all scenarios considered, an optimized distribution of vaccines would substantially improve outcomes compared with the typical age-specific vaccination uptake in the United States."

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