October 26, 2018
2 min read

School-based influenza vaccination program linked to decreased school absences, hospitalization

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SAN FRANCISCO — An elementary school-located influenza vaccination program increased vaccination and decreased school absences and hospitalizations related to influenza in students, according to research presented at IDWeek.

Jade Benjamin-Chung, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the impact of a program that delivered the inactivated influenza vaccine in 2016 to 2017 to schools in a large, urban school district in Oakland, California.

In her prospective study, Benjamin-Chung measured parental reports of student influenza vaccinations in surveys for 44 schools per district (n = 6,070) in 2017. She also gathered data on absences from the school districts and influenza hospitalization during the time of the immunization program. Benjamin-Chung estimated difference in differences (DIDs) in absence rates during influenza season by using generalized linear models and adjusting for month, race and grade.

Benjamin-Chung reported there was a 56.7% vaccination coverage in the control district and 63.9% in the program school district, for a difference of 7.2% (95% CI, 3.6%-10.8%). Almost a quarter of the students (24%) in the program schools were vaccinated at school. Absences and illnesses were lower in the schools participating in the program (5.40 absences and 3.01 illness-related absences per 100 days) compared with the control school sites (6.68 absences and 3.60 illness-related absences per 100 days).

Benjamin-Chung reported that DIDs in absence rates were statistically significant for absences related to illness. She also reported that the risk ratio for influenza hospitalization for all ages in program districts compared with control districts was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.55-0.88) and 0.71 (95% CI, 0.57-0.80) for adults aged 65 years or older. Risk ratios could not be reported for elementary school-aged children, because hospitalization was rare among those students, Benjamin-Chung reported.

The vaccination program produced “an indirect effect on hospitalization in elderly and non-elementary aged groups," she wrote. – by Bruce Thiel


Benjamin-Chung J. Abstract LB20. Presented at: IDWeek; Oct. 3-7, 2018; San Francisco.

Disclosure: Benjamin-Chung reports no relevant financial disclosures.