Introduction: The propensity for influenza viruses to mutate and recombine makes them both a familiar threat and a prototype emerging infectious disease. Emerging evidence suggests that the use of MF59-adjuvanted vaccines in older adults and young children enhances protection against influenza infection and reduces adverse influenza-attributable outcomes compared to unadjuvanted vaccines. The health and economic impact of such vaccines in the Canadian population are uncertain.
Methods: We constructed an age-structured compartmental model simulating the transmission of influenza in the Canadian population over a ten-year period. We compared projected health outcomes (quality-adjusted life years (QALY) lost), costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for three strategies: (i) current use of unadjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine; (ii) use of MF59-adjuvanted influenza vaccine adults ≥65 in the Canadian population, and (iii) adjuvanted vaccine used in both older adults and children aged < 6.
Results: In the base case analysis, use of adjuvanted vaccine in older adults was highly cost-effective (ICER = $2111/QALY gained), but such a program was "dominated" by a program that extended the use of adjuvanted vaccine to include young children (ICER = $1612/QALY). Results were similar whether or not a universal influenza immunization program was used in other age groups; projections were robust in the face of wide-ranging sensitivity analyses.
Interpretation: Based on the best available data, it is projected that replacement of traditional trivalent influenza vaccines with MF59-adjuvanted vaccines would confer substantial benefits to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, and would be economically attractive relative to other widely-used preventive interventions.