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Long-term correlation between influenza vaccination coverage and incidence of influenza-like illness in 14 European Countries.

Spruijt, I.T., Lang, M.M.A. de, Dijkstra, F., Donker, G.A., Hoek, W. van der. Long-term correlation between influenza vaccination coverage and incidence of influenza-like illness in 14 European Countries. PLoS One: 2016, 11(9), e0163508
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We aimed to examine the long-term correlation between influenza vaccination coverage and the incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) in the total and elderly populations of European countries for which data was available on at least six consecutive influenza seasons. We graphically visualised vaccination coverage and ILI incidence trends and calculated Spearman rank correlation coefficients. Additionally, we fitted a negative binomial regression model to estimate the change in ILI incidence per percentage point change in vaccination coverage. We found significant negative correlations for the total population of the Netherlands (ρ = -0.60, p-value = 0.003) and for the elderly populations of England (ρ = -0.80, p-value < 0.001) and Germany (ρ = -0.57, p-value = 0.04). However, results were not consistent, and for some countries we observed significant positive correlations. Only for the elderly in England was there a significant decline in incidence rate per percentage point increase in vaccination coverage (incidence rate ratio = 0.93; 95% confidence interval 0.88–0.99). Based on this ecological study it is not possible to provide evidence for a negative correlation between influenza vaccination coverage and ILI incidence. For future, aetiological studies to assess impact of influenza vaccinations on the population, there is a need for high quality data over long periods of time, on proportion of ILI caused by influenza virus infection, on severe outcome measures such as hospitalisation for influenza, and on other factors that potentially affect influenza transmission.
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