Published: 21 September 2022

Authors: Elenor Jones-Gray, MPH, Elizabeth J Robinson, MPH, Prof Adam J Kucharski, PhD, Annette Fox, PhD, Sheen G Sullivan, PhD

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 208



    Influenza vaccines require annual readministration; however, several reports have suggested that repeated vaccination might attenuate the vaccine's effectiveness. We aimed to estimate the reduction in vaccine effectiveness associated with repeated influenza vaccination.


    In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL Complete databases for articles published from Jan 1, 2016, to June 13, 2022, and Web of Science for studies published from database inception to June 13, 2022. For studies published before Jan 1, 2016, we consulted published systematic reviews. Two reviewers (EJ-G and EJR) independently screened, extracted data using a data collection form, assessed studies' risk of bias using the Risk Of Bias In Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I) and evaluated the weight of evidence by Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE). We included observational studies and randomised controlled trials that reported vaccine effectiveness against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), or influenza B using four vaccination groups: current season; previous season; current and previous seasons; and neither season (reference). For each study, we calculated the absolute difference in vaccine effectiveness (ΔVE) for current season only and previous season only versus current and previous season vaccination to estimate attenuation associated with repeated vaccination. Pooled vaccine effectiveness and ∆VE were calculated by season, age group, and overall. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42021260242.


    We identified 4979 publications, selected 681 for full review, and included 83 in the systematic review and 41 in meta-analyses. ΔVE for vaccination in both seasons compared with the current season was –9% (95% CI –16 to –1, I2=0%; low certainty) for influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, –18% (–26 to –11, I2=7%; low certainty) for influenza A(H3N2), and –7% (–14 to 0, I2=0%; low certainty) for influenza B, indicating lower protection with consecutive vaccination. However, for all types, A subtypes and B lineages, vaccination in both seasons afforded better protection than not being vaccinated.


    Our estimates suggest that, although vaccination in the previous year attenuates vaccine effectiveness, vaccination in two consecutive years provides better protection than does no vaccination. The estimated effects of vaccination in the previous year are concerning and warrant additional investigation, but are not consistent or severe enough to support an alternative vaccination regimen at this time.


    WHO and the US National Institutes of Health.

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