Background: The timing of influenza vaccination and susceptibility to re-circulating virus in the population is influenced by the persistence of seroprotection. Immunosuppressed transplant patients are known to have lower antibody response rates than healthy individuals, but acceptable antibody concentrations are achieved. The duration of this seroprotection beyond a single season has not been evaluated in either healthy or immunosuppressed populations.
Methods: Influenza antibody concentrations against viruses no longer included in the vaccine were measured in serum by hemagglutination inhibition assay annually following vaccination of 73 lung transplant participants and 27 healthy controls. Seroprotection was defined as a titer of ≥ 1:40 and was compared between groups over the measured term using Fisher's exact tests.
Results: Seroprotection rates for influenza A and B strains at one year following immunization were 100% for lung transplant and healthy controls. Rates at two years for the influenza A strains were 65-74% for lung transplant vs. 77-100% in healthy controls. Rates for influenza B strains two years following immunization were 27-50% for lung transplant vs. 16-38% in healthy controls. (Fisher's exact test; not significant for between group comparisons; p < 0.05 for between season comparisons)
Conclusions: Vaccine-induced antibody persistence appears to be influenced more by the vaccine virus strain than the immune status of the vaccinated individuals. Seroprotection rates are high 12 mo following influenza vaccination but wane over the second year, particularly for influenza B viruses. Annual influenza immunization is indicated, even for healthy individuals and even when the vaccine viruses do not change.
Keywords: antibody; immunosuppression; influenza vaccine; lung transplantation; persistence; waning.