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Start of the influenza season 2010-11

22 Dec 2010
Through European surveillance and formal notification from the Community Network on surveillance and control of communicable diseases we are aware that influenza transmission is now picking up across the European Union. In particular, in the first affected country, the UK, there have been some cases of severely affected people due to influenza A (H1N1)2009 and B virus infections, with some fatalities. None of the fatal cases to date had a record of vaccination with the 2009 pandemic vaccine or the 2010 seasonal influenza vaccine. ECDC monitors the influenza situation across Europe and reports results through the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview (WISO).

During the influenza season - and especially while influenza cases are occurring in your community - citizens should adopt preventative measures recommended by their national authorities; these may include: personal hygiene measures and vaccination for those recommended. Vaccination is the most effective of these and it is ECDC advice that all those who are recommended to have the influenza vaccine by their national authorities should get vaccinated  as soon as possible.

Virological analysis show that the 2010 trivalent seasonal influenza vaccines will protect against this season’s influenza viruses.

The proportion of the population immunised in 2010 will not be known for some time, however the most recent figures have ranged from nearly 80% to under 10% among older people and even lower rates among those in the risk groups (with pregnant women usually having the lowest coverage).

Vaccines and vaccination can be an emotive issue and citizens rightly ask for assurance that vaccines are both safe and effective. The scientific evidence shows that seasonal influenza vaccines are effective and very safe. They provide a protection of up to 80% against influenza on an individual basis. ECDC will continue to work closely with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – which is the EU agency responsible for the regulation of medicines at European level, including vaccines – to ensure that the relevant information on safety and effectiveness is readily available to all who want or need it.

Marc Sprenger, ECDC Director

Further reading

 ECDC health information: Start of the seasonal influenza epidemics 2010-11– EU/EEA countries

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