Background: Guidelines recommend influenza vaccinations in all diabetic adults, but there is limited evidence to support vaccinating working-age adults (<65 years) with diabetes. We examined the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in this subgroup, compared with elderly adults (≥ 65 years) for whom vaccination recommendations are well accepted.
Methods: We identified all adults with diabetes, along with a sample of age-matched and sex-matched comparison subjects without diabetes, from 2000 to 2008, using administrative data from Manitoba, Canada. With multivariable Poisson regression, we estimated vaccine effectiveness (VE) on influenza-like illnesses (ILIs), pneumonia and influenza (PI) hospitalisations and all-cause (ALL) hospitalisations during periods of known circulating influenza. Analyses were replicated outside of influenza season to rule out residual confounding.
Results: We included 543 367 person-years of follow-up, during which 223 920 ILI, 5422 PI and 94 988 ALL occurred. The majority (58%) of adults with diabetes were working age. In this group, influenza vaccination was associated with relative reductions in PI (43%, 95% CI 28% to 54%) and ALL (28%, 95% CI 24% to 32%) but not ILI (-1%, 95% CI -3% to 1%). VE was similar in elderly adults for ALL (33-34%) and PI (45-55%), although not ILI (12-13%). However, similar estimates of effectiveness were also observed for all three groups during non-influenza control periods.
Conclusions: Working-age adults with diabetes experience similar benefits from vaccination as elderly adults, supporting current diabetes-specific recommendations. However, these benefits were also manifest outside of influenza season, suggesting residual bias. Vaccination recommendations in all high-risk adults would benefit from randomised trial evidence.
Keywords: Clinical Epidemiology; Viral infection.