Influenza vaccination: key facts for general practitioners in Europe—a synthesis by European experts based on national guidelines and best practices in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands

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Abstract

Currently there is no influenza vaccination guidance for European general practitioners. Furthermore, although the European Council recommends a target seasonal influenza vaccination rate of 75% in the elderly (65 years and above) and in anyone aged >6 months with a chronic medical condition, there remain wide discrepancies throughout Europe. A harmonised guideline regarding not only vaccination strategy but also for the consistent diagnosis of influenza across Europe is essential to support a common approach for the implementation of seasonal influenza vaccination across Europe.

This document is based on pre-existing guidelines available in the UK and Netherlands and has been approved by a group of European experts for use throughout Europe. As well as providing a standardised influenza diagnosis, it also reviews the current recommendations for influenza vaccination, the types of vaccine available, the contraindications, vaccine use in special populations (in pregnancy, children, and in those with egg allergy), and concomitant administration with other vaccines. The effectiveness, safety, and timing of the seasonal influenza vaccine are also reviewed. A second section provides practical guidance for general practitioners for the implementation of a seasonal influenza vaccination program, including the selection and notification of those eligible for vaccination, as well as suggestions for the organisation of a vaccination programme. Finally, suggested responses to common patient misconceptions and frequently asked questions are included.

The aim of this article is to harmonise the diagnosis of seasonal influenza and the approach of European general practitioners to seasonal influenza vaccination in order to better identify influenza outbreaks and to move towards reaching the target vaccination rate of 75% throughout Europe.

Keywords: influenza, vaccination, Europe, guideline, general practitioners.

Abbreviations: EC, European Commission; ECDC, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; EU, European Union; GISRS, Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System; H, haemagglutinin; HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; IIV, Inactivated influenza vaccine; ILI, influenza-like illness; LAIV, live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine; N, neuraminidase; SmPC, summary of product characteristics; TIA, transient ischaemic attack; UK, United Kingdom; WHO, World Health Organisation

Citation: Kassianos G, Blank P, Falup-Pecurariu O, Kuchar E, Kyncl J, Ortiz De Lejarazu R, Nitsch-Osuch A, Van Essen GA. Influenza vaccination: key facts for general practitioners in Europe—a synthesis by European experts based on national guidelines and best practices in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Drugs in Context 2016; 5: 212293. DOI: 10.7573/dic.212293

Disclosure and potential conflicts of interest: This document has been written by a group of European experts (see Appendix 4 for details), with financial support from Sanofi Pasteur and Sanofi Pasteur MSD for medical writing, meeting costs, and layout. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ (ICMJE) Potential Conflicts of Interests form for the author is available for download at: https://www.drugsincontext.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/dic.212293-COI.pdf.

Acknowledgements: Dr Andrew Lane (Lane Medical Writing) provided professional medical writing assistance in the preparation and development of the manuscript in accordance with the European Medical Writers Association guidelines and Good Publication Practice and was funded by Sanofi Pasteur.

Copyright: Copyright © 2016 Kassianos G, Blank P, Falup-Pecurariu O, Kuchar E, Kyncl J, Ortiz De Lejarazu R, Nitsch-Osuch A, Van Essen GA. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Deed CC BY 3.0 which allows anyone to copy, distribute, adapt and transmit the article provided it is properly attributed in the manner specified below.

Correct attribution: Copyright © 2016 Kassianos G, Blank P, Falup-Pecurariu O, Kuchar E, Kyncl J, Ortiz De Lejarazu R, Nitsch-Osuch A, Van Essen GA. http://dx.doi.org/10.7573/dic.212293. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons License Deed CC BY 3.0.

Article URL: https://www.drugsincontext.com/influenza-vaccination-key-facts-for-general-practitioners-in-europe-a-synthesis-by-european-experts-based-on-national-guidelines-and-best-practices-in-the-united-kingdom-and-the-netherlands

Correspondence: Dr George Kassianos FRCGP, FESC, FBGTHA, FAcadMed, FFTM RCPS Glasg, FBHS, President British Global & Travel Health Association and Clinical Immunisation Lead, Royal College of General Practitioners, 61, Plough Lane, Wokingham, Berkshire RG40 1RQ, UK. gckassianos@btinternet.com

Provenance: Submitted, externally peer reviewed

Submitted: 2 December 2015; Peer review comments to author: 29 January 2016; Publication date: 3 August 2016

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