Background: Infants are at high risk for influenza illness, but are ineligible for vaccination before 6 months. Transfer of maternal antibodies to the fetus has been demonstrated for 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic vaccines; however, clinical effectiveness is unknown. Our objective was to evaluate the association between 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic vaccination during pregnancy and rates of infant influenza and pneumonia.
Methods: We linked a population-based birth cohort to administrative databases to measure rates of influenza and pneumonia diagnosed during ambulatory physician visits, hospitalizations and emergency department visits during one year of follow-up. We estimated incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using Poisson regression, comparing infants born to A/H1N1-vaccinated women (vaccine-exposed infants) with unexposed infants, adjusted for confounding using high-dimensional propensity scores.
Results: Among 117,335 infants in the study, 36,033 (31%) were born to A/H1N1-vaccinated women. Crude rates of influenza during the pandemic (per 100,000 infant-days) for vaccine-exposed and unexposed infants were similar (2.19, 95% CI: 1.27-3.76 and 3.60, 95% CI: 2.51-5.14, respectively), as were crude rates of influenza and pneumonia combined. We did not observe any significant differences in rates of study outcomes between study groups during the second wave of the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic, nor during any post-pandemic time period.
Conclusion: We observed no difference in rates of study outcomes among infants born to A/H1N1-vaccinated mothers relative to unexposed infants born during the second A/H1N1 pandemic wave; however, due to late availability of the pandemic vaccine, the available follow-up time during the pandemic time period was very limited.