Influenza vaccine effectiveness (IVE) assessment is increasingly stratified by vaccine type or brand, such as done by the European network of DRIVE. In 2019/2020, eleven influenza vaccines were licensed in Europe. If more than one vaccine type is recommended or if more than one vaccine brand is available for a specific risk group, it is not clear which factors affect the choice of a specific vaccine (type or brand) by a health practitioner for individual patients. This is important for IVE assessment. A survey tailored to the 2019/20 local vaccine recommendations was conducted among GPs in four European countries (Austria, Italy, Spain, UK) to understand how influenza vaccine is offered to recommended risk groups and, if GPs have a choice between 2 or more vaccines, what factors influence their vaccine choice for patients. Overall, 360 GPs participated. In Austria, Italy and Spain GPs indicated that influenza vaccines are commonly offered when patients present for consultation, whereas in the UK all GPs indicated that all relevant patients are contacted by letter. In Austria and Italy, roughly 80% of GPs had only one vaccine type available for patients <65y. The use of any specific vaccine type in this age group is mostly determined by the availability of specific vaccine type(s) at the clinic. GPs frequently reported availability of more than one vaccine type for patients ≥65y in Austria (45%), Italy (70%) and Spain (79%). In this group, patient characteristics played a role in choice of vaccine, notably older age and presence of (multiple) comorbidities. Knowing that a non-patient related factor usually determines the vaccine type a patient receives in settings where more than one vaccine type is recommended for risk groups <65y, simplifies IVE assessment in this age group. However, patient characteristics need careful consideration when assessing IVE in those ≥65y.
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Anke L Stuurman