Antibiotic prescribing across age groups in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population in association with different diagnoses, and with influenza incidence, 2010-2018

Epidemiol Infect. 2022 Feb 24:150:e85. doi: 10.1017/S0950268822000371.


There is limited information on the volume of antibiotic prescribing that is influenza-associated, resulting from influenza infections and their complications (such as streptococcal pharyngitis and otitis media). Here, we estimated age/diagnosis-specific proportions of antibiotic prescriptions (fills) for the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population during 2010-2018 that were influenza-associated. The proportion of influenza-associated antibiotic prescribing among all antibiotic prescribing was higher in children aged 5-17 years compared to children aged under 5 years, ranging from 1.4% [95% CI (0.7-2.1)] in aged <1 year to 2.7% (1.9-3.4) in aged 15-17 years. For adults aged over 20 years, the proportion of influenza-associated antibiotic prescribing among all antibiotic prescribing was lower, ranging from 0.7% (0.5-1) for aged 25-29 years to 1.6% (1.2-1.9) for aged 60-64 years. Most of the influenza-associated antibiotic prescribing in children aged under 10 years was for ear infections, while for age groups over 25 years, 45-84% of influenza-associated antibiotic prescribing was for respiratory diagnoses without a bacterial indication. This suggests a modest benefit of increasing influenza vaccination coverage for reducing antibiotic prescribing, as well as the potential benefit of other measures to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for respiratory diagnoses with no bacterial indication in persons aged over 25 years, both of which may further contribute to the mitigation of antimicrobial resistance.

Keywords: Antibiotics; adults; children; ear infection; influenza; respiratory illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Influenza, Human* / diagnosis
  • Influenza, Human* / drug therapy
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents