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Vaccine. 2013 Oct 25;31(45):5168-77. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.08.056. Epub 2013 Sep 5.

Efficacy and effectiveness of seasonal and pandemic A (H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccines in low and middle income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Initiative for Vaccine Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; Department of Health Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:



Influenza vaccines have been recommended for populations at risk for severe infection in low and middle income countries (LMICs) although knowledge of the evidence-base for their effectiveness and efficacy is limited in these countries. The aim of this systematic review is to provide an overview of the evidence-base for the effectiveness and efficacy of influenza vaccines in LMICs and to explore critical knowledge gaps.


PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane were searched for seasonal and pandemic A (H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccine effectiveness and efficacy studies performed in LMICs. Eligible studies included RCTs and observational studies, published in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese between 1960 and 2011, which assessed laboratory-confirmed influenza and/or influenza-related outcomes in any population. Risk of bias was assessed by two reviewers independently. Random effects pooled estimates were obtained when sufficient data were available.


A total of 6465 articles were screened. Forty-one studies were included on seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness and efficacy and one study on pandemic vaccine effectiveness. In middle income countries (MICs), efficacy of seasonal influenza vaccines was shown against laboratory-confirmed influenza in children (pooled efficacy 72% (95%CI: 65-77) and 81% (95%CI: 69-89), for one and two years follow-up respectively) and in the elderly (pooled efficacy 43% (95%CI: 25-56) and 58% (95%CI: 23-78), for live attenuated and inactivated vaccine respectively). Inactivated influenza vaccines were also found to be effective against cardiovascular outcomes in patients with coronary syndromes.


Seasonal influenza vaccines can provide protection in children, the elderly and patients with coronary syndromes in MICs, and seem to be equally effective as compared to high income countries. Data for other high risk groups and from low income countries were limited or prone to bias, and are needed to further facilitate evidence-based decision making regarding influenza vaccination in LMICs.


COPD; Developing countries; Effectiveness; Efficacy; HIC; ILI; Influenza; LIC; LMIC; MIC,; RCT; Vaccine; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; high income country; influenza-like illness; low and middle income country; low income country; middle income country; randomized controlled trial

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