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  1. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/influenza/flu-awareness-campaign/infographic-check-your-facts-about-influenza-and-what-who-says-2018
  2. National surveys on seasonal influenza vaccination programmes, 2008/2009 to 2014/2015 revealed among other findings that most countries recommended vaccination for older persons, individuals with chronic disease, healthcare workers, and pregnant women. Children were included in < 50% of national policies and only one country of 49 in the WHO Europpean Region reached 75% coverage in older persons (2014/2015). A number of countries reported declining vaccination uptake. For more results see the full article in Vaccine: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X17317620
  3. WHO recommends seasonal influenza vaccination of pregnant women to protect them and their newborn babies from infection, and to reduce the risk of influenza-related complications and hospitalization. Evidence shows that inactivated influenza vaccines are safe for both pregnant mothers and fetuses during all trimesters of pregnancy, and for breastfeeding women. However, maternal influenza vaccination uptake remains low in most of the WHO European Region, despite widespread national policies. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/influenza/publications/2017/tailoring-immunization-programmes-for-seasonal-influenza-tip-flu-a-guide-for-increasing-pregnant-womens-uptake-of-seasonal-influenza-vaccination-2017
  4. In 2015, a pilot project called “Tailoring Influenza Immunization Programmes (TIP FLU)” was launched in selected clinics in Kaunas (the second largest city in Lithuania) with the aim to increase vaccination uptake among pregnant women. Despite evidence of influenza vaccine effectiveness and safety during pregnancy, uptake of influenza vaccination in Lithuania among pregnant women has been very low (<0.5%) since its introduction in 2010. Following studies on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding influenza and influenza vaccination among pregnant women and their health care providers (HCPs), different interventions were developed, including educational seminars for HCPs on benefits of maternal influenza vaccination, information materials for pregnant women, and (social) media coverage on the topic. The aim was to increase: 1) demand for influenza vaccination among pregnant women and 2) health care providers recommending maternal influenza vaccination through building a positive environment for maternal influenza vaccination. In 2014/15 influenza vaccination was <0.5%. By 2016/17, following the 2-year pilot in Kaunas, the number of pregnant women who received influenza vaccination increased to 22.8% in one of the pilot clinics in 2016/2017 with an average of 4.5% in the pilot area overall. The success of this project was ensured by the active engagement of a number of local public health institutions, HCPs, and national policy- and decision-makers. The inclusion of maternal influenza vaccination into the newly published national recommendations for antenatal care and on the standard pregnancy card in 2017 is anticipated to further contribute to an increase in influenza vaccination for pregnant women in Lithuania.
  5. CDC - EID March 2017 We describe the epidemiology of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease during 2007–2014 in 12 European countries and assess overall H. influenzae disease trends by serotype and patient age. Full article
  6. Research article from Eurosurveillance, Volume 22, Issue 8, 23 February 2017 Systems for register-based monitoring of vaccine effectiveness (VE) against laboratory-confirmed influenza (LCI) in real time were set up in Stockholm County, Sweden, and in Finland, before the start of the 2016/17 influenza season, using population-based cohort studies [1,2]. In both locations, after an initial moderately high VE of about 50%, a rapid and sharp 20% decline in VE was observed. In addition, reports from hospitals and outpatient clinics indicated that a majority of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) were elderly people, i.e. those 65 years and above, and that many of them had been vaccinated with the seasonal influenza vaccine (SIV). We therefore wanted to calculate early and mid-season estimates of influenza VE and compare the results between the two populations. The aim was to evaluate VE for LCI in persons 65 years and above, an age group eligible for free SIV.
  7. This winter, influenza activity in the European Region started to increase earlier than in recent years. Influenza A(H3N2) virus represented about 98% of influenza A viruses detected and typed so far. The distribution of viruses may change over the course of a winter, and so it is currently unclear whether or not the predominant virus will remain the same for the duration of the winter. So far this influenza season in the European Region, circulating A(H3N2) viruses are antigenically similar to the vaccine strain. Early monitoring of vaccine effectiveness in Scandinavia suggests that levels of effectiveness are similar to previous years. While vaccination against influenza reduces the risk of infection and hospitalization, it is not 100% effective. Therefore health providers should preferentially suspect and treat severe influenza in the elderly and other risk groups, including considering the use of influenza-specific antiviral medicines even in patients who have been vaccinated. The majority of recently circulating influenza viruses tested were found to be susceptible to the neuraminidase inhibitor class of antiviral medications. Pooled analysis of data from 19 European Union/European Economic Area countries or regions reporting to the European Monitoring of Excess Mortality for Public Health project indicated that excess all-cause mortality seems to have been increasing among the elderly in recent weeks, notably in France and Portugal. This may be due to influenza and, for some countries, the extremely cold weather. However, the observed increase in excess mortality is prone to uncertainty due to delayed adjustment and should be interpreted with caution. For more information on the influenza situation in Europe and the World please visit: Flu News Europe https://flunewseurope.org/ WHO global influenza updates http://www.who.int/influenza/surveillance_monitoring/updates/en
  8. Enjoy this picture of a proud team of immunizers! Charles
  9. Overview of the 2015-2016 influenza season in EU/EEA countries. http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/seasonal_influenza/Pages/infographic-influenza-in-Europe-seasonal-overview.aspx

    © European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2016

  10. Unlike most other vaccinations, the one for influenza needs to be take every year in order for it to be effective. This infographic answers the question Why? It talks about antigens and receptors so isn't pitching itself to the 5-sec-glance audience but to those with the curiosity (and need) to understand why this is the case. Would you be interested in translating or adapting it for your own use?We have adaptable files (Adobe Illustrator) available for exactly that purpose.Contact Health.Communication@ecdc.europa.eu to get those files or to find out more.

    © European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2016

  11. A expert discussion on influenza was held in Latvia on 26 October. The discussion was held at the premises of Disease Prevention and Control Centre (DPCC) and was jointly organised by DPCC and WHO's Latvian Country Office. The discussion was streamed and can be seen on the DPCC's website. Participants in the discussion were: Prof. Ludmila Vīksna, Head, Faculty of Infections and Skin Diseases, Riga’s Stradin’s University. Dr. Dace Zavadska, Head of Children’s Vaccination Centre, Children’s University Hospital of Latvia. Prof. Dace Rezeberga, Chief Specialist in Gynaecology, Ministry of Health; Deputy Director of the Riga Maternity Home. Dr. Jurijs Perevoščikovs, Director, Department of Infectious Diseases Risk Analyses and Prophylaxis, Disease Prevention and Control Centre. Dr Aiga Rūrāne, Head WHO Country Office Latvia.
  12. #ImmuniseYourSelfie Campaign Summary Throughout the 2014/15 Winter period, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) successfully delivered a digitally-led internal communications campaign to encourage staff to have the flu vaccination to protect themselves, colleagues, patients and their families. The campaign, #ImmuniseYourSelfie, highlighted the reasons why people should take responsibility for staying healthy during the winter by having the flu jab. LCH’s campaign involved clinical and non-clinical staff members from across its trust, who posted selfies to highlight why they were getting the flu jab. Campaign Delivery The Trusts Communications Team devised a communications and social media strategy prior to the launch of its campaign. The strategy included a structure for daily topic updates, including flu facts to address common myths, and refreshed public health themed posts to coincide with seasonal events such as, Halloween, Christmas and winter wellness messages. All of the key messages were promoted via LCH’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to support the campaign. A mass vaccination day marked the launch of the flu campaign. As part of the launch day, staff were invited to pose behind a large #ImmuniseYourSelfie frame and encouraged to share their images on the Trust’s social media accounts. The Director of Nursing supported the campaign, and was a visible advocate for the vaccine throughout. As one of the first members of staff to be photographed receiving her flu jab, and an authoritative face on the Trust’s posters, the support from senior management really helped to lead and model good practice throughout the campaign, as well as encouraging staff to be immunised. To address a key campaign aim, ensuring engagement with its large and disparate workforce, a #ImmuniseYourSelfie competition was set up. Staff were asked to post a team or individual post-flu-jab selfie along with their reasons for getting the jab, and the winner would receive £100 of local shopping vouchers. The Trust were successfully able to identify key reasons why staff received their flu jabs. Sharing these publicly generated conversations and in turn encouraged other staff members to have their vaccinations. One member of staff wanted to reduce the risk of infection to a family member, who was recovering from cancer, which helped to raise the awareness that anybody could be a carrier, and pass on the flu virus – in a clinical, corporate or personal capacity. A strong digital presence was maintained during the campaign drive. Digital banner adverts were regularly updated, blogs were posted on the intranet as well as staff immunisation events taking place, which were publicised online and via the weekly e-bulletin. To reach out to staff members without IT access, a range of print materials were used to promote the campaign. Posters were visible in over 80 staff locations across the trust, postcards advertising both the competition and the campaign were attached to all staff payslips and pull-banners were displayed across a range of key locations. The campaign made use of both social media and print media to promote vaccination clinics. A team of immunisers delivered convenient drop-in sessions and offered on-the-spot vaccinations for NHS staff in their different health settings and work places to ensure the vaccination was accessible for all. Campaign Outcomes The Trust achieved almost 70% uptake of the flu vaccination among their frontline healthcare workers, and won the innovative flu fighter campaign award for 2014-15. The campaign achieved: over than 100 flu jab selfies, over 400 staff mentions of #ImmuniseYourSelfie on Twitter, over 500 Twitter retweets, and over 300 Facebook posts. The Trust put the campaign success down to a comprehensive communications and social media strategy. The campaign brand #ImmuniseYourSelfie was easy for staff to get involved with, and tied into current trends. It also provided a talking point among staff, helping to improve awareness of the importance of protecting patients from infection by getting vaccinated. Awareness of the flu campaign organically grew as submissions were posted on social media by staff members, helping to boost the campaign’s messages. Staff from other trusts also began to adopt the #ImmuniseYourSelfie hashtag and the campaign was mentioned in both the Nursing Times and the Nursing Standard. Immunise YourSelfie Campaign.pdf
  13. STIKO (The NITAG of Germany) recommends to use either the nasal vaccine ( LAIV) or an inactivated vaccine (IIA) in the coming season 2016/2017 for children aged from 2-17 years. 39_16_STIKO-Stellungnahme.pdf
  14. I came across an interesting paper this week looking at how GPs approach seasonal flu vaccination in the UK and NL (countries with the best record of hitting the EU target of vaccination 75% of people in at-risk groups). Worth a look if you are interested in this area. The aim of this article is to harmonise the diagnosis of seasonal influenza and the approach of European general practitioners to seasonal influenza vaccination in order to better identify influenza outbreaks and to move towards reaching the target vaccination rate of 75% throughout Europe.
  15. The European Scientific Working group on Influenza (ESWI) is holding this year’s Science Policy Flu Summit on 28 September in Brussels, Belgium. The agenda includes lectures on newly emerging influenza viruses, current and future antivirals, and the pros and cons of vaccinating children, pregnant women, people with asthma and diabetes patients. Dr. Marco Goeijenbier will present the outcome of a brand new review study on influenza vaccination for travellers, while Dr. Florian Krammer will review the pathways to improve the effectiveness of influenza vaccines. The Science Policy Flu Summit provides a platform for debate and interaction among leaders from health professionals´ organizations, patient organizations, academia, industry and civil society in order to work together to reduce the burden of both epidemic and pandemic influenza in Europe. Registration is free, but the number of seats is limited. More information about the concept of the Summit and a preliminary programme is available at http://www.flusummit.org. http://Registration is possible at http://eswi.org/flusummit/register/
  16. The European Scientific Working group on Influenza (ESWI) is holding this year’s Science Policy Flu Summit on 28 September in Brussels, Belgium. The agenda includes lectures on newly emerging influenza viruses, current and future antivirals, and the pros and cons of vaccinating children, pregnant women, people with asthma and diabetes patients. Dr. Marco Goeijenbier will present the outcome of a brand new review study on influenza vaccination for travellers, while Dr. Florian Krammer will review the pathways to improve the effectiveness of influenza vaccines. The Science Policy Flu Summit provides a platform for debate and interaction among leaders from health professionals´ organizations, patient organizations, academia, industry and civil society in order to work together to reduce the burden of both epidemic and pandemic influenza in Europe. Registration is free, but the number of seats is limited. More information about the concept of the Summit and a preliminary programme is available at http://www.flusummit.org. Registration is possible at http://eswi.org/flusummit/register/.
  17. Introduction This is the first year that NHS Trusts and Councils across the city region have agreed to come together to pool resources and budgets to collaborate on a region-wide internal communications campaign for the flu season. The campaign will be used by a large number of NHS Trusts across the region, including acute hospital trusts, community health trusts, and specialist hospital trusts. The aim is to deliver a coordinated consistent campaign for all health care workers (approximately 50,000) across a large geographical area and for organisations to share resources and learning. The other aim is to help keep delivery costs low. The #JabDone campaign takes a light-hearted, almost sarcastic tone, with simple bold colours and messages. The campaign materials we tested on over 250 staff to provide feedback and development options. It is due to launch in October 2016. Background The NHS has good levels of take up for flu vaccinations amongst patients, but encouraging staff to be immunised in order to protect their patients can be more challenging. The flu vaccine is currently recommended, but non-mandatory for all NHS staff, but this year each NHS Trust is targeted with achieving 75% immunisation of all frontline, clinical staff this year by 31 December 2016. The aim To develop a joint creative, effective, but low cost, internal staff flu campaign that will help encourage NHS staff to have the flu jab, in order to protect themselves, their patients and their colleagues from infection during autumn/winter 2016/17. Campaign objectives To increase staff awareness of the importance of being immunised to protect themselves, their colleagues and their patients from the flu. To communicate this message in a positive way that will engage a large and diverse workforce – reaching everyone from doctors and nurses to hospital porters and cleaners. To support frontline staff take-up of the offer of the free flu jab and help each Trust achieve the 75% target. To provide a degree of flexibility so that each Trust can tailor messages for their workforce as required. Audience Health care workers in a wide range of frontline roles - particularly frontline staff in clinical healthcare roles with direct patient contact who directly impact upon each Trust achieving its 75% target Staff in a variety of different healthcare environments - including hospital settings, community clinics, GP practices, care homes, or in patients own homes. Staff in back office/corporate functions & support services - will also be invited to be immunised since this can positively impact on patient/staff health. However, they are a lower priority than frontline clinical staff as they do not count towards the 75% target for NHS Trusts. Behavioural Insights Previous insight into out target audience groups has highlighted that: NHS staff do not want to feel guilt-tripped or coerced into having the flu vaccination and don’t respond well to a top down, didactic approach. The campaign will therefore need to encourage and support staff with staff in a more positive way. Personal motives/reasons for having the vaccination are a big driver for many staff to have the vaccination eg. pregnancy, ill children/relatives, or duty of care for their vulnerable patients. Some staff still believe common myths & misconceptions about the flu vaccination which can make them resistant to having it, such as it being ineffective, that they’ve never had flu before so don’t need it, or that the vaccination can make you ill. Some NHS staff feel a strong sense of ‘change fatigue’ at the moment and resisting the flu vaccination could be seen as a way of exercising personal control for some staff members. Some NHS staff aren’t opposed to getting it, but are ‘harder to reach’ eg. night shift staff, community based teams often miss out on vaccination sessions taking place so making access easy is critical. Highlighting that people can be carriers of the flu virus and pass it onto their patients without actually having the symptoms themselves has also had some impact as many staff still aren’t aware of this factor. Herd mentality/peer influence has also been found to have a significant impact amongst NHS staff. Key Channels and tactics The main channels used to communicate with staff across the organisation include: A4/A3/A2 posters – for use across a number of NHS trust staff sites Digital image/screensaver for use on staff computers and mobile devices Postcard/flyer which will be attached to all staff payslips Digital banner adverts Social media campaign concepts Budget Approximately £500 per Trust (plus additional print costs depending on each organisations requirements). Staff Flu Campaign 2016.pdf
  18. In June 2016 we presented to the Annual Influenza Meeting on the successful Health Worker Vaccination campaigns that we had delivered. Brief: Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) traditionally had relatively low vaccination take-up for flu. In 2012 only around 40% of staff received their vaccinations - a figure significantly below national NHS targets. In response, we developed an effective internal staff engagement and communications campaign that would help convey key messages about the importance of having the vaccination to staff in order to protect themselves, their patients and their colleagues from infection, and would also support increased staff take up for the vaccination. Key Objectives: Increase staff awareness of the importance of being immunised to protect themselves, their colleagues and their patients from the flu, as part of ongoing Trust-wide care quality improvements Positively engage with a ‘change-weary’ workforce to promote a positive attitude towards having the vaccination Dispel common myths amongst staff about the vaccinations being painful or ‘unsafe’ Support an increase in staff take-up and achieve the Trust’s ambitious target of 70% staff immunisation for Winter 2012/13. Strategy: The strategy for our campaigns was closely informed by findings from previous years, which highlighted two major challenges to overcome in effectively communicating with staff: Engaging a large, geographically dispersed workforce LCH’s 3,500 workforce is dispersed across 100+ locations in Merseyside, with many staff working in frontline healthcare roles based in the community, being non-desk-based and working shifts. The strategy was therefore focused around making the campaign as flexible, mobile, and multi-channelled as possible - ensuring all staff had opportunity to see, hear and respond to the campaign message. Encouraging busy healthcare staff to undergo a non-mandatory vaccination The strategy for supporting behaviour change amongst staff was to create a comic campaign that would look/feel light-hearted, rather than ‘lecturing’ staff, and which used real staff members which resonated more and created a genuine talking point amongst employees. Methods/tactics deployed: The resulting campaign featured real staff and Board members based in 1950’s style scenarios, accompanied by comic captions, gently poking fun at the common reasons why staff members avoid having the flu jab. The key tactics deployed were as follows: Campaign launch – All members of the Trust Board leading by example and being photographed having their flu jabs during a Board Meeting to kick start the campaign Print – The eye-catching campaign creatives were displayed on posters were displayed throughout all of the Trust’s buildings, and postcards were attached to all staff payslips, helping to ensure that everyone received the message at least once. Digital screen savers – The various creative executions were also rotated on all Trust screensavers, provoking discussion and amusement between staff members as they began to spot their colleagues ‘starring’ in the campaign Staff Intranet - Regular campaign updates were posted via the staff intranet, staff blog, and weekly e-bulletin to help maintain campaign momentum. Flu Champions & Toolkit - A team of ‘flu champions’ were trained to promote the campaign’s key messages in targeted services across the Trust, armed with a ‘flu fighter toolkit’ of resources ‘Flu Coordinator’ - This dedicated role was introduced for the first time to help the Trust monitor progress, identify any teams/locations where take up was particularly low, and respond by focusing extra resources Drop in Sessions - a flexible timetable of immunisation sessions were offered in different staff buildings so that staff could plan to receive their flu vaccination at a time/location of convenience to them Team Immunisations - The campaign integrated with day-to-day ‘business’ wherever possible, and immunisations sessions were planned to coincide with existing team meetings and briefings, with many nursing teams agreeing to immunise one another. Viral film - A hilarious, short viral film was also released internally which mimicked an old-fashioned Government public health broadcast featuring the Trust’s Chief Executive and Director of Finance urging staff to be immunised PR & social media - The campaign was publicised through local media and the Trust’s Twitter feed as additional ways to reach-out to staff working in community settings. Outcome: Success was measured based on staff take up rates. Data on staff immunisations was captured and inputted into a central system daily, with progress being reported to the Executive team on a weekly basis and to local commissioners on a monthly basis. The campaign successfully achieved a 71.6% take up rate. This figure vastly exceeded the Trust’s flu immunisation targets from commissioners (55%), as well as its own internal target of 70% (set in line with national DH targets). It has also closely supported LCH’s target to reduce staff sickness absence rates, in enabling staff to more effectively protect their vulnerable patients from flu, and helped bring together a dispersed workforce fostering a greater sense of community. Budget/cost-effectiveness: Total spend: £3,500 (Including design agency fees, print costs, and photography) WHO & ECDC Flu Presentation Budapest 16.ppt LCH Flu Postcards Final.pdf
  19. Thirty European Union member states reported their data on influenza to the European Centre for disease prevention and control in order to provide an update on seasonal influenza immunization policies and obtain vaccination coverage rates in European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 influenza seasons. Read the report here.
  20. AAFP News-12 May: Family physicians can learn the latest information on influenza vaccines, particularly those used in patients 65 years and older, during a free, 90-minute AAFP webinar on May 17 at 11 a.m. CDT. The webinar, "Benefits of the Influenza Vaccine for Adults 65 Years and Older,"(attendee.gotowebinar.com) will cover how family physicians can increase influenza vaccination rates in their practices, especially for older adults. Panelists will review data on morbidity and mortality, as well as on the effectiveness of the standard and high-dose influenza vaccines. Resources to help increase accuracy and revenue when coding and billing for vaccinations also will be shared. The webinar will be presented by Thomas Koinis, M.D., a family physician with Duke Primary Care in Oxford, N.C., and is funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi Pasteur. Read more on AAFP.org
  21. See the latest issue of Eurosurveillance for interesting articles on flu vaccine effectiveness in older adults, HPV in Slovenia, PCV in Spain and risk communications as part of communicable disease management.
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