Background: Many novel vaccines can cover only a fraction of all antigenic types of a pathogen. Vaccine effectiveness (VE) in the presence of interactions between vaccine strains and others is complicated by the interacting transmission dynamics among all strains. The present study investigated how the VE estimates measured in the field, based on estimated odds ratio or relative risks, are scaled by vaccination coverage and the transmission dynamics in the presence of cross-protective immunity between two strains, i.e. vaccine and non-vaccine strains.
Methodology/principal findings: Two different types of epidemiological models, i.e. with and without re-infection by the same antigenic type, were investigated. We computed the relative risk of infection and the odds ratio of vaccination, the latter of which has been measured by indirect cohort method as applied to vaccine effectiveness study of Streptococcus pneumoniae. The VE based on the relative risk was less sensitive to epidemiological dynamics such as cross-protective immunity and vaccination coverage than the VE calculated from the odds ratio, and this was especially the case for the model without re-infection. Vaccine-induced (cross-protective) immunity against a non-vaccine strain appeared to yield the highest impact on the VE estimate calculated from the odds ratio of vaccination.
Conclusion: It is essential to understand the transmission dynamics of non-vaccine strains so that epidemiological methods can appropriately measure both the direct and indirect population impact of vaccination. For pathogens with interacting antigenic types, the most valid estimates of VE, that are unlikely to be biased by the transmission dynamics, may be obtained from longitudinal prospective studies that permit estimation of the VE based on the relative risk of infection among vaccinated compared to unvaccinated individuals.