Objective: Detailed data are lacking on influenza burden in the United Kingdom (UK). The objective of this study was to estimate the disease burden associated with influenza-like illness (ILI) in the United Kingdom stratified by age, risk and influenza vaccination status.
Methods: This retrospective, cross-sectional, exploratory, observational study used linked data from the General Practice Research Database and the Hospital Episode Statistics databases to estimate resource use and cost associated with ILI in the UK.
Results: Data were included from 156,193 patients with ≥1 general practitioner visit with ILI. There were 21,518 high-risk patients, of whom 12,514 (58.2%) were vaccinated and 9,004 (41.8%) were not vaccinated, and 134,675 low-risk patients, of whom 17,482 (13.0%) were vaccinated and 117,193 (87.0%) were not vaccinated. High-risk vaccinated patients were older (p<0.001) and had more risk conditions (p<0.001). High-risk (odds ratio [OR] 2.16) or vaccinated (OR 1.19) patients had a higher probability of >1 general practitioner visit compared with low-risk and unvaccinated patients. Patients who were high-risk and vaccinated had a reduced risk of >1 general practitioner visit (OR 0.82; p<0.001). High-risk individuals who were also vaccinated had a lower probability of ILI-related hospitalisation than individuals who were high-risk or vaccinated alone (OR 0.59). In people aged ≥65 years, the mortality rate was lower in vaccinated than unvaccinated individuals (OR 0.75). The cost of ILI-related GP visits and hospital admissions in the UK over the study period in low-risk vaccinated patients was £27,391,142 and £141,932,471, respectively. In low-risk unvaccinated patients the corresponding values were £168,318,709 and £112,534,130, respectively.
Conclusions: Although vaccination rates in target groups have increased, many people are still not receiving influenza vaccination, and the burden of ILI in the United Kingdom remains substantial. Improving influenza vaccination uptake may have the potential to reduce this burden.