Influenza News, Events & Resources


FluWatch - Weekly Influenza Report


July 25 to August 28, 2021 (weeks 30-34)

Despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada, there was no evidence of community circulation of influenza throughout the 2020-2021 surveillance season. Based on historical trends, influenza is expected to remain at inter-seasonal levels for the beginning weeks of the 2021-2022 season.

June 20 to July 24, 2021 (weeks 25-29)

Despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada, there continues to be no evidence of community circulation of influenza. Given the time of year, influenza is expected to remain at inter-seasonal levels for the remainder of the 2020-2021 seasonal influenza surveillance period.

May 23 to June 19, 2021 (weeks 21-24)

Despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada, there continues to be no evidence of community circulation of influenza. Given the time of year, influenza is expected to remain at inter-seasonal levels for the remainder of the 2020-2021 seasonal influenza surveillance period.

April 25, 2021 to May 22, 2021 (weeks 17-20)

Despite continued monitoring for influenza across Canada, there continues to be no evidence of community circulation of influenza. Given the time of year, influenza should remain at inter-seasonal levels.

March 21 to April 24, 2021 (weeks 12-16)

Despite continued monitoring for flu across Canada, there continues to be no evidence of community circulation of flu. Public health measures implemented to reduce the impact of COVID-19 continue to prevent the transmission of flu within the community.

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 >

News

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

Identifying 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

·         Inequity

The 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

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

Influenza vaccine tied to lower hospitalization rates in COPD patients

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

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:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/influenza-surveillance.html

Events

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZfygcxk0Nk

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:

http://mediasite.otn.ca/Mediasite/Play/9773a48f4afc483db632c3bcac33653a1d

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:
https://www.diabetes.ca/in-your-community/diabetes-webinars

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:

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
https://www.macleans.ca/sponsored/for-older-canadians-the-flu-shot-is-a-lifesaver/

Age or chronic conditions make the flu even more dangerous
https://www.macleans.ca/sponsored/age-or-chronic-conditions-make-the-flu-even-more-dangerous/

Resources


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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk0aCusLzFo

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 flu vaccine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvRj3jSbFvU

Influenza resources from Immunize Canada

https://immunize.ca/influenza-campaign

National Institute on Ageing - Whitepaper on the burden of influenza  

https://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/nia/white-papers/burden-of-influenza.pdf

International Federation On Ageing - Addressing Barriers To Adult Vaccination 

Watch the webinar recording.

Unmasking the Spanish Flu 

https://spanishflu.canadiangeographic.ca/

https://spanishflu.canadiangeographic.ca/videos/

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:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization-vaccine-priorities/national-immunization-strategy/vaccination-coverage-goals-vaccine-preventable-diseases-reduction-targets-2025.html

Clinical Trials - Influenza

CHEST 2019; 155(1):69-78
Effectiveness of influenza vaccination on hospitalizations and risk factors for severe outcomes in hospitalized patients with COPD
Influenza vaccination significantly reduced influenza-related hospitalization among patients with COPD. Initiatives to increase vaccination uptake and early use of antiviral agents among patients with COPD could reduce influenza-related hospitalization and critical illness and improve health-care costs in this vulnerable population.  ClinicalTrials.govNo.:NCT01517191; URL www.clinicaltrials.gov


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Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi Pasteur