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Keywords:

  • Antibodies;
  • humoral;
  • immunity;
  • influenza A;
  • pandemic;
  • vaccine

Background  Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus has been circulating in human population for three epidemic seasons. During this time, monovalent pandemic and trivalent seasonal influenza vaccination against this virus have been offered to Finnish healthcare professionals. It is, however, unclear how well vaccine-induced antibodies recognize different strains of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 circulating in the population and whether the booster vaccination with seasonal influenza vaccine would broaden the antibody cross-reactivity.

Objectives  Influenza vaccine-induced humoral immunity against several isolates of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was analyzed in healthcare professionals. Age-dependent responses were also analyzed.

Methods  Influenza viruses were selected to represent viruses that circulated in Finland during two consecutive influenza epidemic seasons 2009–2010 and 2010–2011. Serum samples from vaccinated volunteers, age 20–64 years, were collected before and after vaccination with AS03-adjuvanted pandemic and non-adjuvanted trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine that was given 1 year later.

Results  Single dose of pandemic vaccine induced a good albeit variable antibody response. On day 21 after vaccination, depending on the virus strain, 14–75% of vaccinated had reached antibody titers (≥1:40) considered seroprotective. The booster vaccination 1 year later with a seasonal vaccine elevated the seroprotection rate to 57–98%. After primary immunization, younger individuals (20–48 years) had significantly higher antibody titers against all tested viruses than older persons (49–64 years) but this difference disappeared after the seasonal booster vaccination.

Conclusions  Even a few amino acid changes in influenza A HA may compromise the vaccine-induced antibody recognition. Older adults (49 years and older) may benefit more from repeated influenza vaccinations.