FluWatch - Weekly Influenza Report
March 7, 2021 to March 20, 2021 (weeks 10-11)
All indicators of influenza activity remain exceptionally low for this time of year, despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada.
To date this season, there has been no evidence of
community circulation of influenza despite continued testing above seasonal
levels. Influenza activity has remained below the threshold required to declare
the start of the 2020-21 influenza season.
Three influenza-like-illness (ILI) outbreaks in schools and/or day-cares were reported in weeks 10 to 11, for a total of 124 ILI outbreaks reported this season to date. No laboratory-confirmed outbreaks of influenza have been reported to date this season.
12,105 participants reported to FluWatchers and 19 (0.16%) participants reported cough and fever, which remains low compared to previous seasons. Provide valuable information to track flu and COVID-19 across Canada: Sign up to become a FluWatcher!
The 2020-2021 Seasonal Influenza Immunization Coverage Survey showed that influenza vaccine coverage was similar to previous seasons.
Influenza surveillance indicators are influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes in healthcare-seeking behaviour, impacts of public health measures and influenza testing practices. Current data should be interpreted with consideration to this context. See the COVID-19 Epidemiology update for information on COVID-19 cases in Canada.For more information visit the Government of Canada site >
Sanofi to build new vaccine plant
Toronto, ON - Today, Sanofi announced an investment of
approximately C $ 925 million in a new vaccine manufacturing facility to be
built at its current site in Toronto , Canada . The
investment in such a facility will increase the antigen production and filling
capacity for Sanofi's high-dose FLUZONE ® Quadrivalent influenza
vaccine , thereby increasing its supply in Canada , the United
States and Europe. “As a leader in vaccine manufacturing, we are
constantly looking to the future to meet the growing demand for influenza
vaccines that have demonstrated clinical superiority over standard dose
vaccines. This new investment in the manufacture of
the high-dose FLUZONE ® Quadrivalent vaccine
will help ensure better protection of older people around the world
against influenza and its complications. In addition, this vaccine will be
a key resource to help fight future pandemics” said Paul Hudson, CEO
of Sanofi." We salute the ongoing partnership with the Canadian
authorities, who have provided us with their support to bring this major
project to fruition which will make Canada - which has a solid
heritage in vaccine research and development - one of our main centers in our
efforts to protect and improve human health worldwide. "In addition
to manufacturing Sanofi's high-dose FLUZONE ® Quadrivalent influenza
vaccine , this new manufacturing facility will strategically grow the
biofabrication sector in Canada and build industrial-scale capacity
to better prepare Canada for future pandemics.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/5fh4p9hs
Sanofi and GSK sign agreements with the Government of Canada to supply up to 72 million doses of adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine
LONDON and PARIS, Sept. 22, 2020 /CNW/ - Sanofi and GSK have today signed agreements with the Government of Canada for the supply of up to 72 million doses of an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, beginning in 2021. Thomas Triomphe, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur, said: " Today’s announcement showcases our unwavering commitment to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that is available to everyone when it comes to market. To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes partnerships and we are grateful to Canada for their collaboration, and to GSK for partnering with us to develop a safe and effective vaccine." Roger Connor, President of GSK Vaccines said: "GSK is proud to be working in partnership with Sanofi to make this vaccine available as soon as possible in Canada. Both companies have significant R&D and manufacturing capability world-wide and are already working hard to scale up production. This announcement from the Government of Canada supports our ongoing efforts." Both companies have vaccine manufacturing sites in Canada that are contributing to overall global COVID-19 vaccine development, and these plus their global industrial networks will play a pivotal role in the production of the COVID-19 vaccine doses for Canada – as agreed today. The Companies initiated a Phase 1/ 2 study on 3rd September and anticipate first results in early December 2020, to support the initiation of a Phase 3 study before the end of the year. If these data are sufficient for licensure application, it is planned to request regulatory approval in the first half of 2021. In parallel, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant with the target of producing up to one billion doses in total per year globally.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y5888ct2
Flu Season Will Be a Test Run for the U.S.’s Biggest-Ever Vaccine Campaign
Denver, CO - Mobile vans, vaccine strike teams and drive-throughs will take the place of traditional tactics to get shots to the public. This fall, the U.S. will need to vaccinate huge numbers of Americans in the middle of a public-health crisis. It will also be a valuable dry run should a coronavirus shot arrive months later.The annual U.S. flu vaccine campaign has been cast into disarray by Covid-19, with people staying away from pharmacies, schools, offices, hospitals and other places where they typically get their shots. But with fears of a flu surge colliding with the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities are looking at how one vaccine effort can inform the other. In Denver, public-health officials are trying to increase the number of adults who get the flu vaccine this year to 65% from 45%. To do it, they’re setting up “strike teams” that can go from school to school giving vaccines, vans that can stop at construction sites and inoculate workers, and doing outreach to hard-to-reach communities.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y6lxcbbj
CDC and drug-makers boost flu vaccine doses for upcoming season
GA - Experts are girding for coronavirus and influenza hitting at the same time
Worried about a simultaneous assault of the novel coronavirus and
seasonal influenza this winter, public health officials and vaccine
manufacturers are making millions of extra flu vaccine doses to protect those
most vulnerable to the pandemic and influenza, according to government and
company officials. Even though flu season doesn’t begin until the fall, major
flu vaccine manufacturers say they plan to boost production by about 10 percent,
to about 189 million doses, up from 170 million doses last year, to ensure
enough doses exist for an anticipated surge in people seeking flu shots. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken the rare step of buying 7
million doses directly from manufacturers to be distributed to states for adult
vaccination, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview. “This
is a big move,” he said. That’s about 14 times the 500,000 doses the agency
typically purchases for adults. The adult doses are included in the industry’s
total planned production.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y7ujgxss
barriers to adult influenza vaccination in Canada
Toronto, ON – Vaccination against influenza is critical to the health and functional ability of Canadian seniors as well as people with chronic disease, who are at higher risk of morbidity, mortality and prolonged recovery due to underlying frailty and changes in immune function. For these reasons, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) is ramping up efforts to end immunization inequality in Canada and around the world. The IFA launched a report identifying five major barriers to adult influenza vaccination in Canada:
· Lack of a national vaccination schedule
· Absence of consistent messaging
· Inadequate access and availability to more effective vaccines
· Lack of comprehensive influenza surveillance and vaccination data
· InequityThe focus of the report is on influenza vaccination for Canadian seniors, given the devastating and costly impact the disease has on at-risk groups. The IFA is encouraging patient organizations, healthcare providers, families and employers to come together on the issue to place adult immunization on their agenda. To download a copy of the report click the link: > Identifying barriers to adult influenza vaccination in Canada
Study finds vaccine
effectiveness reduces hospitalizations in elderly
Atlanta, GA - Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza; however, greater benefits could be achieved. To help guide research and policy agendas, researchers here, led by Michelle M Hughes, aimed to quantify the magnitude of influenza disease that would be prevented through targeted increases in vaccine effectiveness (VE) or vaccine coverage (VC). For 3 influenza seasons (2011–12, 2015–16, and 2017–18), researchers used a mathematical model to estimate the number of prevented influenza-associated illnesses, medically attended illnesses, and hospitalizations across 5 age groups. Compared with estimates of prevented illness during each season, given observed VE and VC, we explored the number of additional outcomes that would have been prevented from a 5% absolute increase in VE or VC or from achieving 60% VE or 70% VC. They concluded that small, attainable improvements in effectiveness or VC of the influenza vaccine could lead to substantial additional reductions in the influenza burden. Improvements in VE would have the greatest impact in reducing hospitalizations in adults aged ≥65 years, and VC improvements would have the largest benefit in reducing illnesses in adults aged 18–49 years.For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y2dkmg
B.C. seniors face up to 2-month wait for more effective flu vaccine
Victoria, BC - Seniors in B.C. will have to wait longer for a flu vaccine that offers them better protection, because the province doesn't cover the vaccine, according to the vaccine's manufacturer. The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine isn't expected to land on shelves in B.C. until the end of November or early December, the B.C. Pharmacy Association said Tuesday. Fluzone High-Dose vaccine produces a stronger immune response in seniors who are vulnerable to the flu. Standard vaccines are expected to arrive in October. The vaccine, which Health Canada approved in 2015 for use in people aged 65 and older, contains four times the antigen of a standard flu vaccine and produces a stronger immune response in seniors. A 2014 study found the high-dose vaccine to be 24 per cent more effective in preventing the flu than standard vaccines in adults 65 or older. Seniors are more vulnerable to the flu because of their weaker immune systems. Adults 65 and older accounted for up to 90 per cent of seasonal flu-related deaths in recent years, and up to 70 per cent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. B.C. covers standard flu vaccines but does not publicly fund the high-dose version. Pharmacies in the province charge $75 for the shot.The vaccine's manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said it prioritizes delivery of vaccines to provinces and territories that publicly cover the vaccine, including Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Ontario is the only province that offers the vaccines to all seniors. The other provinces and territories distribute the vaccines to people living in long-term care. For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y4fu3f7r
Very difficult flu season on the horizon
Toronto, ON - Health ministry says it has ordered 300,000 more high-dose flu vaccines for this year. This year's flu season will likely be a bad one, Ontario's health minister said Monday, and the province is stocking up on extra high-strength vaccines in preparation. "We expect that it's going to be a very difficult year," Christine Elliott said after an unrelated announcement. "Based on what's happening in Australia we sort of take a look at what's likely to happen in Ontario." Australian health authorities are reporting an early flu season — unusually high activity for this time of year. Though the overall severity is reported as low, hospitalizations are three times what is normal for this time, and there have been more than 200 deaths so far, according to that country's department of health. Ontario has already ordered 300,000 more doses of high-dose flu vaccines than last year, bringing the total order to 1.2 million doses, said a spokesman for Elliott. 'The anti-vaxxer theory is out there' That vaccine has four times the amount of antigens than the regular flu shot and is given to more vulnerable people, such as seniors. It can be provided in hospitals, long-term care homes and by primary care providers. Elliott said it was proven particularly effective last year, and that the government will also be rolling out an advertising campaign, encouraging people to get the flu shot. "It's really important to prevent it in the first place, but we also need to be prepared to deal with it when it does strike Ontario, both in terms of hospital care, home care and community care," she said. "We will be advertising to people that we want them to get out and get the flu shot and deal with some of the myths out there about getting the flu vaccine because ... the anti-vaxxer theory is out there as well as far as the flu vaccine is concerned, too." Elliott did not yet have a specific date when the flu shot will be available, but she said it will be well in advance of flu season. Researchers reported early this year that the previous flu season's vaccine appeared to be highly effective. The analysis by researchers with the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network and published online in the journal Euro Surveillance, shows it was 72 per cent effective in preventing infection with the H1N1 respiratory virus overall across all age groups. In the 2018-19 flu season, 34 per cent of adults in Canada aged 18-64 got the flu shot, and 70 per cent of seniors got it, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/yy537g6j
Flu shot OK for cancer patients on checkpoint inhibitors
A study, reported in MedPage Today, examined incidence of immune-related adverse events after flu vaccination. For cancer patients receiving treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors for cancer, there was no increase in incidence of immune-related adverse events after receiving the flu shot, researchers found. No increase in incidence or severity of immune-related adverse events occurred in these advanced stage cancer patients, mostly with lung cancer and melanoma, within 2 months after receiving the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), reported Mini Kamboj, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues.For more information: https://tinyurl.com/y3wyoq6l
High-dose influenza vaccination is associated with better outcomes for older adults
Recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association
Journal highlights advantages of using the high-dose flu vaccine over the standard-dose
vaccination for adults aged 65 and older.
For more information: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/191/11/E313
Patients with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who receive a flu vaccine are
significantly less likely to be hospitalized with influenza. Patients with COPD
who are hospitalized with the flu are more likely to face serious health
consequences than those hospitalized for other acute respiratory infections.
For more information: https://tinyurl.com/yym9pvnz
Not too late to get flu shot, health officials say
Despite early start to 2018-2019 flu season, vaccine still offers benefit. According to Ottawa Public Health, there have been two influenza-related deaths this season. Health officials are still encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect both themselves and the vulnerable.
Canada falling short on flu vaccinations Just 38% of adults were vaccinated last year — 'too few' for the Public Health Agency of Canada
FluWatch Public Health Agency of Canada provides updates on flu activity across the country. Subscriptions to the service are free-of-charge. Reports indicate type of Influenza virus that is circulating in all major regions of the country. Influenza and other respiratory viruses are monitored weekly and results reported every Thursday in the Respiratory Virus Detections in Canada Report. More information is available through the following link:
Heart & Stroke recently hosted a webinar on influenza. Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist and researcher at the University of Toronto discussed influenza prevention, its symptoms, and its risks particularly for those aged 65 years and older and living with chronic conditions. View the webinar through the following link:
Ontario Lung Association hosted a health policy webinar with Dr. Alison McGeer. The title of the webinar is Influenza Immunization Update for the 2018/2019 season. You can view the webinar through the following link:
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Ontario Lung Association (OLA) are holding a Breathing Policy Forum on November 27, 2018 in Toronto. Attendance is limited. Registration is required. COPD Canada will provide a link to the published content from the forum when it becomes available. More information on the Breathing Policy Forum is available through the following link:
Diabetes Canada created a series of 4 webinars for specific high-risk ethic populations: Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian and Indigenous people. You can view the webinars through the following link:
You can also find articles on influenza and aging on the Diabetes Canada web site by using the search function on the site – search Influenza to locate articles. To read a sample article click on the link following the title below:
Avoid the flu – Especially if you’re 65+
Maclean’s magazine recently published two articles focused on the flu. A link to each article follows the title:
For older Canadians, the flu shot is a lifesaver
Age or chronic conditions make the flu even more dangerous
Each year 12,200 people in Canada are hospitalized from the flu. Almost 70% of these are seniors. To view a touching story on the effect of the flu on a member of the community watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk0aCusLzFo
Educational videos pertaining to influenza and the elderly
Each year 12,200 people in Canada are hospitalized from the flu. Almost 70% of these are seniors. Watch a father and son’s journey with the flu.
Influenza can be serious in adults over 65. Learn about how
the high-dose Influenza vaccine may be more effective in protecting older
adults against Influenza and its potential complications. Learn about the high-dose
Influenza resources from Immunize Canada
National Institute on Ageing - Whitepaper on the burden of influenza
International Federation On Ageing - Addressing Barriers To Adult Vaccination
Unmasking the Spanish Flu
Immunize Canada has created an Influenza Pocket Guide which specifically mentions the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendation for the high-dose flu vaccine. The pocket guide provides recommendations for choice of vaccine product for those 6 months up to 65+ as well as for certain high-risk groups. The public section includes a chart on provincial programs; a chart on publicly funded influenza vaccination programs and publicly funded season vaccines. Specific product recommendations are made for those adults 65 and older (high dose TIV). For a copy of the Influenza Pocket Guide click on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/y9ew8j27
Public Health Agency of Canada As part of the National Immunization Strategy objectives for 2016-2021, vaccination coverage goals and vaccine preventable disease reduction targets were set based on international standards and best practices. The goals and targets are consistent with Canada’s commitment to World Health Organization (WHO) disease elimination targets and Global Vaccine Action Plan, while reflecting the Canadian context. For more information:
Clinical Trials - Influenza
Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi Pasteur