Influenza vaccination in children with asthma: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Herman J Bueving, Roos M D Bernsen, Johan C de Jongste, Lisette W A van Suijlekom-Smit, Guus F Rimmelzwaan, Albert D M E Osterhaus, Maureen P M H Rutten-van Mölken, Siep Thomas, Johannes C van der Wouden

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There is little evidence that influenza vaccination reduces asthma exacerbations. We determined whether influenza vaccination is more effective than placebo in 6-18-year-old children with asthma. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Parenteral vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccine or placebo took place approximately November 1, and children were followed until April 1 of the next year. Airway symptoms were reported in a diary. When symptom scores reached a predefined level, a pharyngeal swab was taken. Primary outcome was the number of asthma exacerbations associated with virologically proven influenza infection. Three hundred forty-nine children were assigned placebo, and 347 were assigned vaccine. Pharyngeal swabs positive for influenza were related to 42 asthma exacerbations, 24 in the vaccine group and 18 in the placebo group, a difference of 33% favoring placebo (31% after adjustment for confounders; 95% confidence interval, -34% to 161%). Influenza-related asthma exacerbations were of similar severity in both groups; they lasted 3.1 days shorter in the vaccine group (95% confidence interval, -6.2 to 0.002 days, p = 0.06). We conclude that influenza vaccination did not result in a significant reduction of the number, severity, or duration of asthma exacerbations caused by influenza. Additional studies are warranted to justify routine influenza vaccination of children with asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-93
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Asthma/physiopathology
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus/isolation & purification
  • Influenza Vaccines/administration & dosage
  • Influenza, Human/complications
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Inactivated/administration & dosage

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