Vaccination against influenza on an annual basis is widely recommended, yet recent studies suggest consecutive vaccination may reduce vaccine effectiveness (VE).
To assess whether when examining the entirety of existing data consecutive influenza vaccination reduces VE compared to current season influenza vaccination.
MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) from inception to April 26, 2017; citations of included studies.
Randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies of children, adults and/or the elderly that reported laboratory-confirmed influenza infection over 2 or more consecutive influenza seasons were eligible.
Data related to study characteristics, participant demographics, cases of influenza infection by vaccination group and risk of bias assessment was extracted in duplicate.
Five RCTs involving 11,987 participants did not show a significant reduction in VE when participants vaccinated in two consecutive seasons (VE 71%, 95% CI 62-78%) were compared to those vaccinated in the current season (VE 58%, 95% CI 48-66%) (odds ratio [OR] 0.88, 95% CI 0.62-1.26, p = 0.49, I2 = 39%). Twenty-eight observational studies involving 28,627 participants also did not show a reduction (VE for two consecutive seasons 41%, 95% CI 30-51% compared to VE for current season 47%, 95% CI 39-54%; OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.98-1.32, p = 0.09, I2 = 63%). Results from subgroup analyses by influenza type/subtype, vaccine type, age, vaccine match and co-morbidity support these findings; however, dose-response results were inconsistent. Certainty in the evidence was assessed to be very low due to unexplained heterogeneity and imprecision.
The inclusion of studies with relatively small sample sizes and low event rates contributed to the imprecision of summary VE and OR estimates, which were based on unadjusted data.
Available evidence does not support a reduction in VE with consecutive influenza vaccination, but the possibility of reduced effectiveness cannot be ruled out due to very low certainty in this evidence.
CIHR Foundation Grant (PROSPERO: CRD42017059893).