by Edward M. Hill, Stavros Petrou, Henry Forster, Simon de Lusignan, Ivelina Yonova, Matt J. Keeling
For infectious disease prevention, policy-makers are typically required to base policy decisions in light of operational and monetary restrictions, prohibiting implementation of all candidate interventions. To inform the evidence-base underpinning policy decision making, mathematical and health economic modelling can be a valuable constituent.
Applied to England, this study aims to identify the optimal target age groups when extending a seasonal influenza vaccination programme of at-risk individuals to those individuals at low risk of developing complications following infection. To perform this analysis, we utilise an age- and strain-structured transmission model that includes immunity propagation mechanisms which link prior season epidemiological outcomes to immunity at the beginning of the following season. Making use of surveillance data from the past decade in conjunction with our dynamic model, we simulate transmission dynamics of seasonal influenza in England from 2012 to 2018. We infer that modified susceptibility due to natural infection in the previous influenza season is the only immunity propagation mechanism to deliver a non-negligible impact on the transmission dynamics. Further, we discerned case ascertainment to be higher for young infants compared to adults under 65 years old, and uncovered a decrease in case ascertainment as age increased from 65 to 85 years of age.