Vaccination and antigenic drift in influenza

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124 Scopus citations


The relationship between influenza antigenic drift and vaccination lies at the intersection of evolutionary biology and public health, and it must be viewed and analyzed in both contexts simultaneously. In this paper, I review what is known about the effects of antigenic drift on vaccination and the effects of vaccination on antigenic drift, and I suggest some simple ways to detect the presence of antigenic drift in seasonal influenza data. If antigenic drift occurs on the time scale of a single influenza season, it may be associated with the presence of herd immunity at the beginning of the season and may indicate a need to monitor for vaccine updates at the end of the season. The relationship between antigenic drift and vaccination must also be viewed in the context of the global circulation of influenza strains and the seeding of local and regional epidemics. In the data sets I consider - from New Zealand, New York, and France - antigenic drift can be statistically detected during some seasons, and seeding of epidemics appears to be endogenous sometimes and exogenous at other times. Improved detection of short-term antigenic drift and epidemic seeding would significantly benefit influenza monitoring efforts and vaccine selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C8-C14
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Jul 18 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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