Public Health England recommends individuals at higher risks for influenza receive a newly available adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccine this winter.
As influenza season approaches, health officials in the United Kingdom have announced new influenza vaccination recommendations for individuals >65.
During the 2017 to 2018 influenza season the United Kingdom reported moderate to high levels of influenza activity with co-circulation of influenza B and influenza A. According to the Public Health England (PHE), cases were predominately seen in older adults, with a pattern of outbreaks observed in nursing homes.
Furthermore, PHE has noted that there was an uptake of 72.6% of influenza vaccination in the >65 population.
In August of 2017, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved FLUAD, an adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) designed to better protect adults >65 years. This flu season will be the first season the vaccination will be used in the UK
The vaccine protects against a total of 4 strains of the flu—2 strains of influenza virus A, and 2 strains of influenza virus B—and is designed to boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is critical because older individuals do not respond as well to current flu vaccines due to weakened immune systems.
The vaccination will be economical, according to PHE, and more effective than vaccines currently in use. Additionally, it could reduce visits to physicians by 30,000, hospitalizations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from the flu in England.
In addition to the older adult population, the aTIV will also be offered to pregnant women and adults with chronic health issues, beginning in early October.
“This year, the public will be better protected from flu than ever before, with at-risk groups being offered the most effective vaccine available and every member of National Health Service staff expected to get their jab,” Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England and executive director of NHS England, said in a recent statement.
The new vaccination is being launched as part of a new campaign called “Help Us Help You.” The campaign is based on the concept of reciprocity and encourages UK citizens to take appropriate health actions to enable officials to help citizens.
In addition to the aTIV vaccination eligibility, there will be an expansion of availability for the nasal spray vaccine to school-aged children, which will expand the availability to children in years 1 to 5; this current change will provide vaccines to an additional 650,000 children. Health officials suggest the increase in coverage could prevent 63,000 visits to health care providers annually. Additionally, it is hopeful that in the future the nasal spray vaccine will be available to all school-aged children.
“Further protection will be gained by offering flu vaccine to more children this year and giving a vaccine that provides protection against 4 strains of flu to all eligible people under the age of 65,” Paul Cosford, Medical Director at PHE, said in a recent statement. “We encourage everyone who is eligible to get the flu vaccine from their general practice or pharmacy before the end of November.”
The vaccine produced by Seqirus was assessed in 36 clinical trials with 12,730 participants, 7532 of which received the aTIV. In pooled analysis, a higher percentage of subjects who received the aTIV reported both local and systematic reactions post-immunization compared with those who received conventional non-adjuvanted trivalent vaccines. According to the manufacturer, Seqirus, however, most reactions are mild to moderate and resolve within 1 to 2 days.
The vaccine was first approved in Italy in 1997 and has been in use in the United States since November of 2015. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine is licensed in over 38 countries.