By using a nested case-control design, the authors studied the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in reducing severe and fatal complications in 4,241 and 5,966 primary care, working-age patients aged 18-64 years who had asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease during the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 influenza epidemics in the Netherlands. Patients developing fatal or nonfatal exacerbations of lung disease, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or myocardial infarction during either epidemic were considered cases. For each case, four age- and sex-matched controls were randomly sampled, and patient records were reviewed. Conditional logistic regression and propensity scores were used to assess vaccine effectiveness after adjustment for confounding factors. In seasons one and two, respectively, 87% (47/54) and 85% (171/202) of the cases and 74% (155/210) and 75% (575/766) of the controls had been vaccinated. After adjustments, vaccination was not associated with reductions in complications (season one: odds ratio = 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.26, 3.48; season two: odds ratio = 1.07, 95% CI: 0.59, 1.96; pooled odds ratio = 1.07, 95% CI: 0.63, 1.80). Because influenza vaccination appeared not to be associated with a clinically relevant reduction in severe morbidity, other measures need to be explored.
Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands. E.Hak@med.uu.nl, , , , ,