Do Antibody Responses to the Influenza Vaccine Persist Year-Round in the Elderly? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Abstract

Introduction: The influenza vaccine is less immunogenic in older than younger adults, and the duration of protection is unclear. Determining if protection persists beyond a typical seasonal epidemic is important for climates where influenza virus activity is year-round.

Methods: A systematic review protocol was developed and registered with PROSPERO [CRD42015023847]. Electronic databases were searched systematically for studies reporting haemagglutination-inhibition (HI) titres 180-360days following vaccination with inactivated trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine, in adults aged ⩾65years. Geometric mean titre (GMT) and seroprotection (HI titre ⩾1:40) at each time point was extracted. A Bayesian model was developed of titre trajectories from pre-vaccination to Day 360. In the meta-analysis, studies were aggregated using a random-effects model to compare pre-vaccination with post-vaccination HI titres at Day 21-42 (‘seroconversion’), Day 180 and Day 360. Potential sources of bias were systematically assessed, and heterogeneity explored.

Results: 2864 articles were identified in the literature search, of which nineteen met study inclusion/exclusion criteria. Sixteen studies contained analysable data from 2565 subjects. In the Bayesian model, the proportion of subjects seroprotected increased from 41-51% pre-vaccination to 75-78% at seroconversion. Seroprotection subsequently fell below 60% for all serotypes by Day 360: A/H1 42% (95% CI 38-46), A/H3 59% (54-63), B 47% (42-52). The Bayesian model of GMT trajectories revealed a similar pattern. By Day 360, titres were similar to pre-vaccination levels. In the meta-analysis, no significant difference in proportion of subjects seroprotected, 0 (-0.11, 0.11) or in log2GMT 0.30 (-0.02, 0.63) was identified by Day 360 compared with pre-vaccination. The quality of this evidence was limited to moderate on account of significant participant dropout.

Conclusions: The review found consistent evidence that HI antibody responses following influenza vaccination do not reliably persist year-round in older adults. Alternative vaccination strategies could provide clinical benefits in regions where year-round protection is important.

Citation: Young, B., Zhao, X., Cook, A. R., Parry, C. M., Wilder-Smith, A., & I-Cheng, M. C. (2017). Do antibody responses to the influenza vaccine persist year-round in the elderly? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Vaccine35(2), 212-221.

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