Flu Cases Increasing in Europe

Through European surveillance and formal notification from the Community Network on surveillance and control of communicable diseases, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says it is aware that influenza transmission is now picking up across the European Union. In particular, in the first affected country, the United Kingdom, 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 -- the ECDC says that citizens should adopt preventive 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 the ECDC's 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 seasons influenza viruses.

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

Marc Sprenger, ECDC director, says that 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 percent against influenza on an individual basis. The ECDC says it 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.