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Annual repeat influenza vaccination effects: new research results publishedFeb152017

A team led by Danuta Skowronski (Epidemiology Lead, Influenza & Emerging Respiratory Pathogens) of the BC Centre for Disease Control, published a scientific paper last week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID) that may also be of interest to you. The paper reflects the collaborative input of investigators from the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) and the University of Cambridge (UK).

In this paper, the effects of annual repeat influenza vaccination are addressed, including several key perspectives:

  1. Historical observations, dating more than 40 years ago, including findings during UK boarding school A(H3N2) outbreaks in the 1970s, and a US randomized controlled trial in the 1980s, illustrated in the Supplementary Material.
  2. Major explanatory hypothesis – called “the antigenic distance hypothesis” – articulated during the 1990s by Smith et al to reconcile variability in annual repeat influenza vaccination effects based on the relatedness (or antigenic distance) between prior (v1) and current (v2) season’s vaccines, and the current season’s epidemic (e) strain.
  3. Epidemiological findings during three recent A(H3N2) epidemics in Canada (2010, 2012, 2014), interpreted within the framework of the antigenic distance hypothesis.
  4. Immunological theories beyond (or complementary to) the antigenic distance hypothesis to explain the potential negative effects of annually repeated influenza vaccination.

This is the first modern attempt to directly correlate antigenic distance metrics with epidemiological observations of repeat influenza vaccination effects based on the test-negative design. The authors show good overall consistency between epidemiological findings and predictions of the antigenic distance hypothesis.

The article has been selected as “Editor’s Choice” by JID and an invited commentary by Dr. John Treanor of the University of Rochester accompanies its publication. Both are freely available in Advance Open Access format at the links below:

Article: https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/2979766/Serial-vaccination-and-the-antigenic-distance

Accompanying commentary (J Treanor): https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/2979769/Flu-vaccine-too-much-of-a-good-thing

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) has reported on the article, available here: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2017/02/studies-shed-light-effects-serial-flu-shots-current-vaccines-benefits

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