Programme no. 250-OP
Public Health
Influenza vaccination: a summary of Cochrane Reviews
Sven Frederick Østerhus*1
1Department of General Medicine,University of Copenhagen,Copenhagen,Denmark
* = Presenting author
Objectives: To present a summary of reviews on influenza vaccination undertaken by the Cochrane Collaboration, and discuss their implications.
Background: This study has been published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Sep 4, 2014. DOI 10.1007/s10096-014-2236-2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25185860

In developed countries, influenza vaccination is either recommended to the whole population or to certain subgroups at risk of developing severe complications. To assess the scientific evidence for this practice, the Cochrane Collaboration has published several meta-analyses on the subject.

Results: Twelve reviews were found investigating the effect of influenza vaccination on healthy children, healthy adults, the elderly, healthcare workers working with the institutionalised elderly, COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, children being treated with chemotherapy for cancer, immunosuppressed individuals with cancer, persons with haematological malignancies and people with coronary heart disease.

A positive effect in reducing the number of cases of influenza, influenza-like illness or complications to influenza was found in some reviews, but generally the risk of bias was high, several studies lacked hard clinical endpoints, and data on side effects were scarce.

Material/Methods: The Cochrane Library was systematically searched for reviews regarding influenza vaccination. The results and conclusions were stratified and synthesized according to predefined criteria.
Conclusion: Except for a possible benefit in people with COPD or haematological malignancies or in immunosuppressed adults with cancer, all Cochrane Reviews concluded that the general recommendations for influenza vaccination are not supported by current evidence. This conclusion has been challenged by other non-Cochrane reviews, despite obtaining similar results. More randomised controlled trials are warranted to assess the health benefits of influenza vaccination.
Points for discussion: How can different types of prophylactic measures for influenza best be conducted in general practice?