Rapid Assessment of Influenza Vaccination in the United States

Vaccination represents the most important preventive measure available against influenza, a major cause of morbidity and mortality, especially in the elderly and persons with underlying health problems. Recommendations for influenza vaccine, as for all vaccines, must balance associated risks and benefits. In December 1990, two cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of influenza vaccination were reported in a Colorado Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). In response to these reports, active surveillance for GBS cases after influenza vaccine was undertaken to determine if there was an association between GBS and influenza vaccine. Early studies found no clear association. During the flu seasons of 1992-93 and 1993-94 over 35 and 48 cases, respectively, were reported of GBS after influenza vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS); these represented the highest totals reported for any flu season since 1976. However, the total number of vaccinations administered during the 1992-94 flu seasons were at the highest level since the swine flu vaccine program. Thus, the increased reports to VAERS may be attributed either to an increase in coincidental cases or to the vaccine itself. If the failure to detect a true association in the past was due to inadequate exposure, the large number of vaccinations administered during these two seasons represented the best opportunity to study the issue. For this study, a 49-item telephone survey indicated that: (1) nationally, approximately 26 percent of the respondents had received an influenza vaccination during the 1993-94 flu season; (2) respondents with an underlying health condition (heart, respiratory, circulatory, immunosupression) were significantly more likely to have received an influenza vaccination; and (3) nationally, 89.6 percent of respondents correctly recalled their vaccination status within the same flu season.

AGENCY SPONSOR: National Vaccine Program Office


PIC ID: 5894

PERFORMER: Macro International, Inc.
Atlanta, GA