Groll and Thomson's evaluation of the effectiveness of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Campaign used per capita cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza. We argue that these data are susceptible to various biases and should not be used as an outcome measure. Laboratory data are traditionally used to identify the presence of influenza activity rather than to identify levels of influenza activity. A better measure of viral activity is the proportion of influenza tests positive; whereas the weekly proportion of tests positive was relatively consistent, a marked increase over time in the numbers of laboratory-confirmed cases paralleled an increase in the number of tests performed. Regardless, for evaluating universal influenza immunization program effectiveness, other established and available measures employed in previous studies describing the epidemiology of influenza should be used instead of laboratory data.
Comment On: Vaccine. 2006 Jun 12;24(24):5245-5016624458