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Real-world estimates of seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) are important for early detection of vaccine failure. We developed a method for evaluating real-time in-season vaccine effectiveness (IVE) and overall seasonal VE. In a retrospective, register-based, cohort study including all two million individuals in Stockholm County, Sweden, during the influenza seasons from 2011/12 to 2014/15, vaccination status was obtained from Stockholm’s vaccine register. Main outcomes were hospitalisation or primary care visits for influenza (International Classification of Disease (ICD)-10 codes J09-J11). VE was assessed using Cox multivariate stratified and non-stratified analyses adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status, comorbidities and previous influenza vaccinations. Stratified analyses showed moderate VE in prevention of influenza hospitalisations among chronically ill adults ≥ 65 years in two of four seasons, and lower but still significant VE in one season; 53% (95% confidence interval (CI): 33–67) in 2012/13, 55% (95% CI: 25–73) in 2013/14 and 18% (95% CI: 3–31) in 2014/15. In conclusion, seasonal influenza vaccination was associated with substantial reductions in influenza-specific hospitalisation, particularly in adults ≥ 65 years with underlying chronic conditions. With the use of population-based patient register data on influenza-specific outcomes it will be possible to obtain real-time estimates of seasonal influenza VE.


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