Duration of influenza vaccine effectiveness in the elderly in Japan: A retrospective cohort study using large-scale population-based registry data

Vaccine. 2023 May 5;41(19):3092-3098. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.03.066. Epub 2023 Apr 10.


Background: The immune response to influenza vaccination in the elderly is likely to be lower than that in young adults. Clinical protection may not persist year-round in the elderly. However, the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in the elderly has not been adequately studied, especially in terms of the duration of effectiveness.

Methods: We used a linked database of healthcare administrative claims data and vaccination records maintained by the municipality of a city in Kanto region of Japan. We studied individuals who were aged 65 years or older at baseline and were followed up between April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2020. The duration of influenza vaccine effectiveness by age category was analyzed using a time-dependent piecewise Cox proportional hazard model with time-dependent vaccine status, prior season vaccination and covariates confirmed in the baseline period (age, sex, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma, chronic kidney diseases, and cardiovascular diseases).

Results: We identified an analysis population of 83,146 individuals, of which 7,401 (8.9%) had experienced influenza and 270 (0.32%) underwent influenza-related hospitalization. Individuals who were vaccinated during the first season (n = 47,338) were older than non-vaccinated individuals (n = 35,808) (average age, 75.8 vs. 74.1 years, respectively). The multivariable analysis showed a lower incidence of influenza in vaccinated individuals (hazard ratio [HR], 0.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43-0.51; P < 0.001), while the incidence of hospitalization for influenza did not differ significantly by vaccination status (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.53-1.18; P = 0.249). Protective effectiveness against incidence was maintained for 4 or 5 months after vaccination in those aged 65-69 and 80-years, 5 months in 70-79 years.

Conclusions: Our study identified moderate vaccine effectiveness in preventing the incidence of influenza in the Japanese elderly. Vaccine effectiveness showed a trend of gradual attenuation. Clinicians should suspect influenza infection even in those vaccinated, especially in elderly individuals who had received vaccination more than 4 or 5 months previously.

Keywords: Cohort study; Elderly; Influenza vaccination; Medical information database; Time-dependent effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human* / prevention & control
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Routinely Collected Health Data
  • Seasons
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine Efficacy
  • Young Adult


  • Influenza Vaccines