Fall has arrived and along with the shorter days, colder weather and rain comes the season for influenza-like-illnesses (ILI) and pneumonia. This article includes updates from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and flu-related highlights from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) final meeting of 2015.
OHA Flu Season Activity Findings
The OHA monitors flu activity in Oregon and reports weekly on the number of incidents and spread of ILI throughout the state from the first day of the 40th week of the year through the last day of 20th week of the following year. This year flu activity reporting began on September 28, 2015 and will end May 22, 2016.
The FluBites report for week 44, ending November 7, 2015, reported no positive influenza tests, a minimal level of ILI activity, and no reported outbreaks.
CDC Flu Season Activity Findings
The CDC monitors flu and pneumonia activity in the United States all year long but they report weekly on the incidents and spread of these illnesses throughout flu season. There is a lot of good news this flu season. Here are a few of the highlights from the CDC weekly report as of week 44, ending November 7, 2015.
- This year’s flu vaccine offers significantly more protection than last year’s vaccine because it includes two or three additional flu strains in the vaccine mix and those strains are similar to the circulating strains of flu this year.
- The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories is low. Of the 10,271 specimens tested in week 44, only 1.2% of the specimens were positive for influenza viruses.
- None of the 2015 tested influenza viruses in circulation were found to be resistant to the three major anti-viral medications.
ACIP Meeting Highlights Related to Flu
The October ACIP meeting included a presentation on the cost-effectiveness of high-dose influenza vaccine in adults aged 65 years and older. The presenters concluded that high-dose flu vaccine is more cost effective than standard doses of flu vaccine based on the reduction in cardiovascular complications seen in patients 65 years and older who received the high-dose vaccine versus those who received the standard flu vaccine dose.1,2
A new influenza vaccine currently under FDA review was discussed. The new vaccine, an adjuvanted trivalent vaccine, is expected to enhance immune response and have a safety profile similar to other licensed vaccines.
1 DiazGranados C A, et al: Efficacy of high–dose versus standard–dose influenza vaccine in older adults. New England Journal of Medicine: 2014;371:635–45. Available at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1315727?query=featured_home& Accessed 5 November 2015.
2CDC. Fluzone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine. Questions and answers. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm Accessed 5 November 2015.