FLU NEWS SCAN: Flu vaccine use in SE Asia, poultry H5N1 outbreaks, self-administered flu vaccine

Dec 26, 2012

Survey in Southeast Asia finds flu vaccine sales low but rising
A survey revealed that influenza vaccine sales remain low in 10 southeast Asian countries, but they got a boost from the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, according to a Dec 21 report in PLoS One. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several of the countries involved surveyed the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and three multinational companies that supply flu vaccines in the region. Overall, annual flu vaccine sales in recent years were fewer than 1,000 doses per 100,000 population. Thailand had the highest reported rate of vaccine sales in 2011, at 10,333 doses per 100,000 people. The survey also showed that the overall level of private-sector flu vaccine sales increased from 481 doses per 100,000 in 2008 to 954 per 100,000 in 2009, and the increase was sustained in 2010 and 2011. In other findings, five countries had guidelines for flu vaccination, but only two, Singapore and Thailand, had guidelines consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. For example, WHO guidelines classify pregnant women as the highest priority group, but only Singapore and Thailand called for vaccinating pregnant women.
Dec 21 PLoS One report

H5N1 hits poultry in Bangladesh, Nepal
In what officials in Bangladesh are describing as the worst poultry H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in 5 years, animal health workers are culling 150,000 birds at a large poultry farm near the country's capital, Dhaka, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. The outbreak was detected on Dec 24 after farm workers noted dozens of dead chickens. Authorities said the outbreak is Bangladesh's 23rd this year, according to the report. A rash of outbreaks in 2007 led to the culling of more than 1 million birds. Elsewhere, an H5N1 outbreak at a commercial poultry farm in Nepal prompted the culling of 2,500 chicks and the destruction of 19,000 eggs, the Himalayan Times reported yesterday. The farm is located in a suburb of Kathmandu, the capital, and represents the first outbreak in that area in 3 years, according to a report yesterday from Xinhua, China's state news agency.
Dec 26 AFP story
Dec 25 Himalayan Times story
Dec 25 Xinhua story

Study: Smooth sailing for self-administered LAIV flu vax
Self-administered intranasal live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is as safe and effective as that administered by health providers, according to recent analysis of data from a randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted in 1997 and 1998. The study, which explored differences in administration and was funded by MedImmune, the maker of Flumist, appeared in the Dec 20 online edition of Vaccine. Self-administered flu vaccines could be useful in a pandemic mass immunization setting and could be a tool for making vaccination more efficient and less costly, the authors say. Patients in the study of 4,561 adults were allowed to choose from supervised self-administration or health-provider administration. Researchers compared overall results from the two groups and focused on four sites that had more than 50 people in each cohort. They compared levels of febrile and upper-respiratory illnesses and did not collect specimens to test for flu or vaccine immunogenicity. They also compared the numbers of adverse events in the two groups. Recipients overwhelmingly chose self-administration. The research group found no significant difference in illness incidence between the two groups and observed comparable levels of reactions and adverse events 7 days after vaccination.
Dec 20 Vaccine abstract

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