Background: School-located influenza vaccination (SLIV) programs are an efficient means of immunizing large numbers of school-aged children. Decreased student absenteeism is a major potential benefit of SLIV programs.
Objectives: To describe the impact of SLIV programs on student absenteeism.
Methods: A review of the medical literature, including recent scientific conference presentations, was conducted to identify studies that evaluated school absenteeism in the season following recent US SLIV programs. Publications through April 30, 2010 were included.
Results: 5 peer-reviewed articles and 1 conference presentation were identified. Programs vaccinated 185–5315 students, 35%–86% of those enrolled. Methodologies for evaluating absenteeism varied and often multiple methods were employed in a single study. 5 studies compared absenteeism in SLIV schools versus control schools; absenteeism was decreased in SLIV schools in all studies, with a 21%-66% reduction in absenteeism during the influenza season or a 26% reduction in full-year absenteeism. The absolute absenteeism decrease was 2.4-3.6 fewer ILI absences per 100 students or a 1.2%-1.8% reduction in the absenteeism rate. 3 studies compared absenteeism for vaccinated versus unvaccinated students in SLIV schools; all found reduced absenteeism among vaccinated students, with a 31%-66% reduction in absenteeism during the influenza season; the absolute decrease was 2.5 days or a 0.8%-1.7% reduction in the absenteeism rate. One study found that absenteeism was significantly reduced among high school students when only elementary school students were vaccinated. No study quantified vaccination of students outside of the SLIV program.
Conclusions: Multiple studies have demonstrated that SLIV programs can reduce student absenteeism during the influenza season. SLIV programs may be able to help schools achieve their educational mission by decreasing student absenteeism due to influenza. Sponsored by MedImmune.