Influenza directly or indirectly contributes to the four leading causes of global mortality, at rates that are highest in older adults. As the proportion of older adults in the Korean population is greater than in most other countries, influenza prevention is a greater public health priority in Korea than elsewhere. Conventional inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) is less immunogenic and efficacious (-50%) in older than in young adults, but adjuvanting the vaccine with oil-in-water emulsion MF59® increases immunogenicity, resulting in comparatively higher levels of hemagglutination inhibition antibodies and greater protection against all influenza, as well as cases requiring hospitalization. A recent observational study demonstrated that the adjuvanted vaccine protected older adults against influenza in a year when nonadjuvanted IIV was ineffective. In another multiyear study, the adjuvanted vaccine was estimated to be 25% more effective in preventing pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations compared to nonadjuvanted vaccine. Although MF59-adjuvanted vaccine is transiently more reactogenic than nonadjuvanted vaccine, there is no evidence that it increases risks for serious adverse events, including those with an autoimmune etiology. Experience thus far indicates a favorable balance of benefit to risk for MF59. This may reflect the adjuvant's mechanism of action in which the squalene oil emulsion increases antibody responses to co-administered antigen without acting more generally as an immunopotentiator.
Keywords: Adjuvant; Emulsion adjuvant; Influenza; Influenza vaccine; MF59.