Viral Shedding in Recipients of Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Influenza Seasons in the United Kingdom

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 10;70(12):2505-2513. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz719.


Background: The (H1N1)pdm09 live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) strain was changed for the 2017-2018 influenza season to improve viral fitness, following poor protection against (H1N1)pdm09 viruses in 2015-2016. We conducted LAIV virus shedding studies to assess the effect of this change.

Methods: Children aged 2-18 years were recruited to receive LAIV in the 2016-2017 (n = 641) and 2017-2018 (n = 362) influenza seasons. Viruses from nasal swabs taken 1, 3, and 6 days postvaccination were quantified by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and area under the curve titers were determined. Presence and quantity of shedding were compared between strains and seasons with adjustment for age and prior LAIV (n = 436), inactivated seasonal vaccine (n = 100), or (H1N1)pdm09 vaccine (n = 166) receipt.

Results: (H1N1)pdm09 detection (positivity) in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 (11.2% and 3.9%, respectively) was lower than that of H3N2 (19.7% and 18.7%, respectively) and B/Victoria (28.9% and 33.9%, respectively). (H1N1)pdm09 positivity was higher in 2016-2017 than 2017-2018 (P = .005), but within shedding-positive participants, the (H1N1)pdm09 titer increased in 2017-2018 (P = .02). H3N2 and influenza B titers were similar between seasons. Positivity declined with age, and prior vaccination reduced the likelihood of shedding influenza B but not (H1N1)pdm09.

Conclusions: The (H1N1)pdm09 titer increased in 2017-2018, indicating more efficient virus replication in shedding-positive children than the 2016-2017 strain, although overall positivity was reduced. Age and vaccination history require consideration when correlating virus shedding and protection.

Clinical trials registration: NCT02143882, NCT02866942, and NCT03104790.

Keywords: LAIV; influenza; vaccine effectiveness; virus shedding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype* / genetics
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / genetics
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human* / prevention & control
  • Seasons
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Virus Shedding


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated

Associated data