Paradoxical clade- and age-specific vaccine effectiveness during the 2018/19 influenza A(H3N2) epidemic in Canada: potential imprint-regulated effect of vaccine (I-REV)
Influenza A(H3N2) VE was 17% (95% CI: −13 to 39) overall: 27% (95% CI: −7 to 50) for 3C.2a1b and −32% (95% CI: −119 to 21) for 3C.3a. Among 20–64-year-olds, VE was −7% (95% CI: −56 to 26): 6% (95% CI: −49 to 41) for 3C.2a1b and −96% (95% CI: −277 to −2) for 3C.3a. Clade 3C.3a VE showed a pronounced negative dip among 35–54-year-olds in whom the odds of medically attended illness were > 4-fold increased for vaccinated vs unvaccinated participants (p < 0.005). This age group was primed in childhood to influenza A(H3N2) viruses that for two decades following the 1968 pandemic bore a serine at haemagglutinin position 159, in common with contemporary 3C.3a viruses but mismatched to 3C.2a vaccine strains instead bearing tyrosine.