Influenza News, Events & Resources


News

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

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

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.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/health-officials-still-encouraging-flu-shot-after-an-early-start-to-the-season-1.4964003

Canada falling short on flu vaccinations Just 38% of adults were vaccinated last year — 'too few' for the Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/flu-shot-vaccination-rates-1.4897357

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

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:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-importance-of-immunization-to-the-health-of-seniors-tickets-51716902648?utm_term=eventname_text

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:

Avoid the flu – Especially if you’re 65+
https://tinyurl.com/y9qwroar

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/

Personal Stories

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

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