Uptake and impact of vaccinating primary school children against influenza: Experiences in the fourth season of the live attenuated influenza vaccination programme, England, 2016/2017
Sinnathamby MA., Warburton F., Andrews N., Boddington NL., Zhao H., Ellis J., Tessier E., Donati M., Elliot AJ., Hughes HE., Byford R., Smith GE., Tripathy M., de Lusignan S., Zambon M., Pebody RG.
Background: In the 2016/2017 influenza season, England was in its fourth season of the roll-out of a live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) targeted at healthy children aged two to less than 17 years. For the first time, all healthy children aged 2 to 8 years were offered LAIV at national level in 2016/2017. Since the commencement of the programme in 2013/2014, a series of geographically discrete pilot areas have been in place where quadrivalent LAIV was also offered to all school age children. In 2016/2017, these were children aged 8 to 11 years, other than those targeted by the national programme. Methods: We evaluated the overall and indirect impact of vaccinating primary school age children, on the population of England, by measuring vaccine uptake levels and comparing cumulative disease incidence through various influenza surveillance schemes, in targeted and non-targeted age groups in pilot and non-pilot areas in 2016/2017. Results: Our findings indicate that cumulative primary care influenza-like consultations, primary and secondary care swab positivity, influenza confirmed hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in pilot areas were overall lower than those observed in non-pilot areas; however, significant differences were not always observed in both targeted and non-targeted age groups. Excess mortality was higher in pilot areas compared with non-pilot areas. Conclusions: These results are similar to earlier seasons of the programme indicating the importance and continuing support of vaccinating all primary school children with LAIV to reduce influenza related illness across the population, although further work is needed to understand the differences in excess mortality.