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Increasing herd immunity with influenza revaccination

Abstract

Seasonal influenza is a significant public health concern globally. While influenza vaccines are the single most effective intervention to reduce influenza morbidity and mortality, there is considerable debate surrounding the merits and consequences of repeated seasonal vaccination. Here, we describe a two-season influenza epidemic contact network model and use it to demonstrate that increasing the level of continuity in vaccination across seasons reduces the burden on public health. We show that revaccination reduces the influenza attack rate not only because it reduces the overall number of susceptible individuals, but also because it better protects highly connected individuals, who would otherwise make a disproportionately large contribution to influenza transmission. We also demonstrate that our results hold on an empirical contact network, in the presence of assortativity in vaccination status, and are robust for a range of vaccine coverage and efficacy levels. Our work contributes a population-level perspective to debates about the merits of repeated influenza vaccination and advocates for public health policy to incorporate individual vaccine histories.

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