Factors associated with humoral immune response in older adults who received egg-free influenza vaccine.

16 Jan 2023
Williams KV, Moehling Geffel K, Alcorn JF, Patricia Nowalk M, Levine MZ, Kim SS, Flannery B, Susick M, Zimmerman RK


Immune responses to influenza vaccination tend to be lower among older, frequently vaccinated adults. Use of egg-free influenza vaccines is increasing, but limited data exist on factors associated with their immunogenicity in older adults.


Community-dwelling older adults ≥ 56 years of age were enrolled in a prospective, observational study of immunogenicity of 2018-2019 influenza vaccine. Hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) antibody titers were measured pre-vaccination (Day 0) and four weeks after vaccination (Day 28) to calculate geometric mean titers, seropositivity (HAI titers ≥ 1:40), seroconversion (fourfold rise in HAI titer with post-vaccination titer ≥ 1:40) and geometric mean fold rise (GMFR). Linear regression models assessed the association of predictors of GMFR for each vaccine antigen.


Among 91 participants who received egg-free influenza vaccines, 84 (92.3 %) received quadrivalent recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV4, Flublok, Sanofi Pasteur), and 7 (7.7 %) received quadrivalent cell culture-based influenza vaccine (ccIIV4, Flucelvax, Seqirus). Pre-vaccination seropositivity was 52.8 % for A(H1N1), 94.5 % for A(H3N2), 61.5 % for B/Colorado and 48.4 % for B/Phuket. Seroconversion by antigen ranged from 16.5 % for A(H1N1) and B/Colorado to 37.4 % for A(H3N2); 40 participants failed to seroconvert to any antigen. Factors independently associated with higher GMFR in multivariable models included lower pre-vaccination HAI antibody titer for A(H1N1), B/Colorado and B/Phuket, and younger age for A(H1N1).


Overall pre-vaccination seropositivity was high and just over half of the cohort seroconverted to ≥ 1 vaccine antigen. Antibody responses were highest among participants with lower pre-vaccination titers. Among older adults with high pre-existing antibody titers, approaches to improve immune responses are needed.