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Modelled seasonal influenza mortality shows marked differences in risk by age, sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic position in New Zealand

journal contribution
posted on 02.05.2019 by Trang Q.T. Khieu, Nevil Pierse, Lucy Frances Telfar-Barnard, Jane Zhang, Qiu Sue Huang, Michael G. Baker
Objectives: Influenza is responsible for a large number of deaths which can only be estimated using modelling methods. Such methods have rarely been applied to describe the major socio-demographic characteristics of this disease burden.

Methods: We used quasi Poisson regression models with weekly counts of deaths and isolates of influenza A, B and respiratory syncytial virus for the period 1994 to 2008.

Results: The estimated average mortality rate was 13.5 per 100,000 people which was 1.8% of all deaths in New Zealand. Influenza mortality differed markedly by age, sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic position. Relatively vulnerable groups were males aged 65-79 years (Rate ratio (RR) = 1.9, 95% CI: 1.9, 1.9 compared with females), Maori (RR = 3.6, 95% CI: 3.6, 3.7 compared with European/Others aged 65-79 years), Pacific (RR = 2.4, 95% CI: 2.4, 2.4 compared with European/Others aged 65e79 years) and those living in the most deprived areas (RR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.3, 2.4) for New Zealand Deprivation (NZDep) 9&10 (the most deprived) compared with NZDep 1&2 (the least deprived).

Conclusions: These results support targeting influenza vaccination and other interventions to the most vulnerable groups, in particular Maori and Pacific people and men aged 65e79 years and those living in the most deprived areas.