Background: People of non-White ethnicity have a higher risk of severe outcomes following influenza infection. It is unclear whether this is driven by an increased risk of infection or complications. We therefore aimed to investigate the incidence of clinically diagnosed influenza/influenza-like illness (ILI) by ethnicity in England from 2008-2018. Methods: We used linked primary and secondary healthcare data (from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink [CPRD] GOLD and Aurum databases and Hospital Episodes Statistics Admitted Patient Care [HES APC]). We included patients with recorded ethnicity who were aged 40-64 years and did not have a chronic health condition that would render them eligible for influenza vaccination. ILI infection was identified from diagnostic codes in CPRD and HES APC. We calculated crude annual infection incidence rates by ethnic group. Multivariable Poisson regression models with random effects were used to estimate any ethnic disparities in infection risk. Our main analysis adjusted for age, sex, and influenza year. Results: A total of 3,735,308 adults aged 40-64 years were included in the study; 87.6% White, 5.2% South Asian, 4.2% Black, 1.9% Other, and 1.1% Mixed. We identified 102,316 ILI episodes recorded among 94,623 patients. The rate of ILI was highest in the South Asian (9.6 per 1,000 person-years), Black (8.4 per 1,000 person-years) and Mixed (6.9 per 1,000 person-years) ethnic groups. The ILI rate in the White ethnic group was 5.7 per 1,000 person-years. After adjustment for age sex and influenza year, higher incidence rate ratios (IRR) for ILI were seen for South Asian (1.70, 95% CI 1.66-1.75), Black (1.48, 1.44-1.53) and Mixed (1.22, 1.15-1.30) groups compared to White ethnicity. Conclusions: Our results suggest that influenza infection risk differs between White and non-White groups who are not eligible for routine influenza vaccination.
- Respiratory infection