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Evidence-based policies for the control of influenza

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Influenza vaccines can prevent serious outcomes of infection, but vaccine policies should be based on the best contemporary evidence

In this issue of the Journal, two studies draw attention to potential difficulties in protecting vulnerable people from influenza infection. In the first study, Wiley and colleagues report a 27% uptake of influenza vaccine by pregnant women in three hospitals in New South Wales in 2011, with differences in uptake attributable to how the vaccine was promoted and the ease of accessing it.1 Influenza vaccination of pregnant women is an important issue that was highlighted during the 2009 pandemic. In Australia, the risk of hospitalisation with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza for pregnant women compared with non-pregnant women aged 15–44 years was increased by about fivefold2 and the risk of admission to intensive care, by about sevenfold.3 The World Health Organization recently recommended influenza vaccination for pregnant women as the highest priority for countries considering initiation or expansion of programs for seasonal influenza vaccines.4

In the second study, Macesic and…