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OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the relative effectiveness of high-dose quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV-HD) versus standard-dose quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV-SD) against recurrent hospitalizations and its potential variation in relation to influenza circulation. METHODS: We did a post-hoc analysis of a pragmatic, open-label, randomized trial of QIV-HD versus QIV-SD performed during the 2021-2022 influenza season among adults aged 65-79 years. Participants were enrolled in October 2021-November, 2021 and followed for outcomes from 14 days postvaccination until 31 May, 2022. We investigated the following outcomes: Hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza, respiratory hospitalizations, cardio-respiratory hospitalizations, cardiovascular hospitalizations, all-cause hospitalizations, and all-cause death. Outcomes were analysed as recurrent events. Cumulative numbers of events were assessed weekly. Cumulative relative effectiveness estimates were calculated and descriptively compared with influenza circulation. The trial is registered at NCT05048589. RESULTS: Among 12,477 randomly assigned participants, receiving QIV-HD was associated with lower incidence rates of hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza (10 vs. 33 events, incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.30 [95% CI, 0.14-0.64]; p 0.002) and all-cause hospitalizations (647 vs. 742 events, IRR 0.87 [95% CI, 0.76-0.99]; p 0.032) compared with QIV-SD. Trends favouring QIV-HD were consistently observed over time including in the period before active influenza transmission; i.e. while the first week with a ≥10% influenza test positivity rate was calendar week 10, 2022, the first statistically significant reduction in hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza was already observed by calendar week 3, 2022 (5 vs. 15 events, IRR 0.33 [95% CI, 0.11-0.94]; p 0.037). DISCUSSION: In a post-hoc analysis, QIV-HD was associated with lower incidence rates of hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza and all-cause hospitalizations compared with QIV-SD, with trends evident independent of influenza circulation levels. Our exploratory results correspond to a number needed to treat of 65 (95% CI 35-840) persons vaccinated with QIV-HD compared with QIV-SD to prevent one additional all-cause hospitalization per season. Further research is needed to confirm these hypothesis-generating findings.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Microbiol Infect

Publication Date



Influenza, Pneumonia, Pragmatic, Randomized controlled trial, Registry, Vaccine