Surveillance report Open Access
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The influenza vaccine for the season 2003/04 did not contain the circulating A(H3N2)/Fujian virus strain. Vaccine effectiveness (VE) estimates were needed but unavailable. We explored whether or not laboratory based influenza surveillance can be used to estimate VE. We carried out a case-control study nested within Danish sentinel surveillance. A case was defined as a person aged 25 or above with A(H3N2)/Fujian/411/02 influenza. Four controls per case, matched on age groups and time, were selected from clients of sentinel practitioners (SP) who reported cases. SPs collected the following data in structured one-page questionnaires: vaccination status, chronic illness and previous pneumococcal vaccination. We sent postal survey questionnaires to participating SPs to assess acceptability and simplicity of data collection. Twenty four cases were identified. Data from 19 case-control sets were analysed. One control was excluded because information on vaccination status was missing. Two of the 19 cases and 11 of 75 controls had been vaccinated against influenza. The VE adjusted for chronic illness was 33% (95% CI 0%–88%) and 37% (95% CI 0%–89%) when excluding 5 controls with influenza-like illness. Twenty two SPs returned survey questionnaires. Fifteen of 17 SPs reported that it was easy to find controls. SPs collected data through interviews and clinical notes, spending 1 to 5 minutes per case and 5 to 15 minutes for all four controls. Nineteen of 22 SPs considered the amount of time they spent on the study to be acceptable, 17 said that they would like to participate again, and none ruled out further participation. Le contrôle de l’EV au sein des systèmes de surveillance sentinelle est faisable. Les nombres restreints de notre étude limitent l’interprétation de l’EV. Une étude étendue à l’échelle européenne, comprenant plusieurs pays, pourrait surmonter cette limitation et offrir des évaluations de l’efficacité vaccinale plus tôt dans la saison, pour différents groupes d’âge et pour des souches virales émergentes, incluant les sous-types nouveaux et pandémiques. Monitoring VE within sentinel surveillance systems is feasible. The small numbers in our study limit interpretation of VE. Expansion to a European multicountry study could overcome this limitation and provide VE estimates earlier in the season, for different age groups and emerging virus strains, including new and pandemic subtypes.


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