MF59-adjuvanted versus non-adjuvanted influenza vaccines: integrated analysis from a large safety database

Vaccine. 2009 Nov 16;27(49):6959-65. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.08.101. Epub 2009 Sep 12.


Background: Adding adjuvants such as MF59((R)) to influenza vaccines can enhance the immune response. This analysis evaluated the safety profile of MF59-adjuvanted [(+)MF59] compared with non-adjuvanted [(-)MF59] vaccines in a large clinical database.

Methods: Safety data were pooled from 64 clinical trials involving (+)MF59 seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. Safety outcomes were analysed in the overall population and in subjects aged > or =65 years, in all clinical trials and in controlled trials only.

Findings: Data from 20,447 (+)MF59 and 7526 (-)MF59 subjects were analysed. Overall, (+)MF59 subjects had lower risks than (-)MF59 subjects of experiencing any unsolicited adverse event (AE) (26.8% vs 39.2%; adjusted risk ratio [ARR] 0.65; 95% CI 0.60-0.70), cardiovascular AEs (1.9% vs 5.6%; ARR 0.44; 95% CI 0.35-0.55), new onset chronic diseases (1.3% vs 1.9%; ARR 0.71; 95% CI 0.57-0.87) and death (0.8% vs 1.2%; ARR 0.67; 95% CI 0.51-0.87). Few AEs of potential autoimmune origin were reported: 0.71 and 0.67 per 1000 with (+)MF59 and (-)MF59, respectively. As expected, (+)MF59 subjects had a higher risk of solicited local or systemic reactions within 3 days of vaccination (58.5% vs 46.9%, weighted RR 1.34; 95% CI 1.28-1.40). Safety outcomes were consistent between total and elderly populations, and between all trials and controlled trials, although statistical significance was lost for some of the outcomes in the subgroups.

Interpretation: This large-scale analysis supports the good safety profile of (+)MF59 seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines and suggests a clinical benefit over (-)MF59 influenza vaccines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / adverse effects*
  • Aged
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysorbates / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Squalene / adverse effects*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • MF59 oil emulsion
  • Polysorbates
  • Squalene