A New Strategy to Combat Influenza and Speed Recovery

Flu complications are a leading cause of hospitalization and death worldwide. At risk for serious complications are individuals who are extremely young or old, obese, chronically ill or who have compromised immune systems.

Research published in the journal Cell Reports  writes of a promising new approach that uses an investigational cancer drug to dial down viral production and dramatically increase survival of flu-infected mice.

Full story at Infection Control Today

 

Record numbers of NHS frontline staff have had flu jab this winter

Record numbers of NHS staff have had their flu jab this winter, official figures from Public Health England (PHE) show | OnMedica

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Some 594,700 (61.8%) frontline NHS staff across England were vaccinated against flu between 1 September and 31 December last year. That figure is expected to increase in January and February.

The highest level achieved by the end of February in previous winters was 541,757 (just under 55%) in 2014-15.

PHE does not have recorded numbers of deaths from flu. But it is estimated that, in 2015-16, there were about 2,300 excess deaths over the winter linked to the time of year. Flu and extreme cold weather are the two most likely causes.

Read the news story here

Practice Transformation Program Increases Adult Influenza Vaccination

Infection Control Today | Published online: 3 November 2016

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An evidence-based, step-by-step guide, the 4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program, was the foundation of an intervention to increase adult immunizations in primary care and was tested in a randomized controlled cluster trial. The purpose of this study by Lin, et al. (2016) was to report changes in influenza immunization rates and on factors related to receipt of influenza vaccine.

Twenty-five primary care practices were recruited in 2013, stratified by city (Houston, Pittsburgh), location (rural, urban, suburban) and type (family medicine, internal medicine), and randomized to the intervention (n = 13) or control (n = 12) in Year 1 (2013-14). A follow-up intervention occurred in Year 2 (2014-15). Demographic and vaccination data were derived from de-identified electronic medical record extractions.

A cohort of 70,549 adults seen in their respective practices (n = 24 with 1 drop out) at least once each year was followed. Baseline mean age was 55.1 years, 35 % were men, 21 % were non-white and 35 % were Hispanic. After one year, both intervention and control arms significantly (P < 0.001) increased influenza vaccination, with average increases of 2.7 to 6.5 percentage points. In regression analyses, likelihood of influenza vaccination was significantly higher in sites with lower percentages of patients with missed opportunities (P < 0.001) and, after adjusting for missed opportunities, the intervention further improved vaccination rates in Houston (lower baseline rates) but not Pittsburgh (higher baseline rates). In the follow-up intervention, the likelihood of vaccination increased for both intervention sites and those that reduced missed opportunities (P < 0.005).

The researchers say that reducing missed opportunities across the practice increases likelihood of influenza vaccination of adults. The 4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program provides strategies for reducing missed opportunities to vaccinate adults.

Read the full overview here

Read the original article here

Childhood flu programme: information for practitioners

The Department of Health has updated its guidance document The National Childhood Flu Immunisation Programme 2016/17 Information for healthcare practitioners

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Image source: http://www.gov.uk/

The document includes information on:

  • what flu is
  • the flu vaccine
  • dosage
  • administering the vaccine
  • advice on vaccinating children with an egg allergy
  • further resources

JCVI statement on the nasal spray flu vaccine

Department of Health | First published: 26 August 2016

Using the nasal spray flu vaccine for the UK childhood influenza immunisation programme: advice from JCVI

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Image source: gov.uk

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has reviewed updated data from the 2015 to 2016 season in the UK and other countries on the effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine, in light of emerging evidence of low effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine reported in the United States (US).

This statement sets out the committee’s advice for continuation of the childhood influenza immunisation programme in using the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV, the nasal spray vaccine).

Read the full statement here

Association of increased influenza vaccination in health care workers with a reduction in nosocomial influenza infections in cancer patients

Frenzel, E. et al. American Journal of Infection Control. Published online: 5 May 2016

Highlights: 

  • We applied a multifaceted influenza vaccination program in a cancer center.
  • Mandatory influenza vaccination program effectively increased health care worker vaccination rates.
  • Improvement in health care worker vaccination rates reduced the proportion of nosocomial infections.

Background: Vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) remains a key strategy to reduce the burden of influenza infections in cancer patients.

Methods: In this 8-year study, we evaluated the effect of a multifaceted approach, including a mandatory influenza vaccination program, on HCW vaccination rates and its effect on nosocomial influenza infections in cancer patients.

Results: The influenza vaccination rate of all employees significantly increased from 56% (8,762/15,693) in 2006-2007 to 94% (17,927/19,114) in 2013-2014 (P < .0001). The 2009 mandatory participation program increased HCW vaccination rates in the targeted groups (P < .0001), and the addition of an institutional policy in 2012 requiring influenza vaccination or surgical mask use with each patient contact further increased vaccination rates by 10%-18% for all groups in 1 year. The proportion of nosocomial influenza infections significantly decreased (P = .045) during the study period and was significantly associated with increased HCW vaccination rates in the nursing staff (P = .043) and in personnel working in high-risk areas (P = .0497).

Conclusions: Multifaceted influenza vaccination programs supported by institutional policy effectively increased HCW vaccination rates. Increased HCW vaccination rates were associated with a reduction in the proportion of nosocomial influenza infections in immunocompromised cancer patients.

Read the abstract here

NIH Study Finds Factors That May Influence Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness

Infection Control Today. Published online: 19 April 2016.

Image shows Influenza B (Li) virus particles.

The long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited, new research suggests. Currently, seasonal flu vaccines are designed to induce high levels of protective antibodies against hemagglutinin (HA), a protein found on the surface of the influenza virus that enables the virus to enter a human cell and initiate infection. New research conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that higher levels of antibody against a different flu surface protein–neuraminidase (NA)–were the better predictor of protection against flu infection and its unpleasant side effects. Neuraminidase, which is not currently the main target antigen in traditional flu vaccines, enables newly formed flu viruses to exit the host cell and cause further viral replication in the body.

The findings, from a clinical trial in which healthy volunteers were willingly exposed to naturally occurring 2009 H1N1 influenza type A virus, appear online today in the open-access journal mBio.

Read the full commentary here