The efficacy of seasonal influenza vaccination against 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) remains unclear.
One child aged 6-17 years in each of 796 households was randomized to receive 2009-2010 seasonal trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) or saline placebo between August 2009 and February 2010. Households were followed up with serology, symptom diaries, and collection of respiratory specimens during illnesses. The primary outcomes were influenza infection confirmed by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or a ≥4-fold rise in serum antibody titer measured by hemagglutination inhibition assay.
Receipt of TIV led to 8-13-fold mean geometric rises in antibody titers against seasonal A and B viruses, but only 1.5-fold mean geometric rises against the pandemic A(H1N1) virus that was not included in the vaccine. Children who received TIV had a reduced risk of seasonal influenza B confirmed by RT-PCR, with a vaccine efficacy estimate of 66% (95% confidence interval [CI], 31%-83%). Children who received TIV also a had reduced risk of pandemic influenza A(H1N1) indicated by serology, with a vaccine efficacy estimate of 47% (95% CI, 15%-67%).
Seasonal TIV prevented pandemic influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B infections in children. Pandemic A(H1N1) circulated at the time of vaccination and for a short time afterward with no substantial seasonal influenza activity during that period. The potential mechanism for seasonal TIV to provide protection, possibly short lived, for children against pandemic A(H1N1) infection despite poor cross-reactive serologic response deserves further investigation. Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00792051.