What is pandemic influenza

Influenza viruses are changing continuously and new strains emerge from time to time. If a new influenza virus subtype, that is very different from all previous viruses, emerges and causes disease in the human population, people will have little or no specific immunity to it, and consequently this virus may spread quickly and become a […]

Do healthy people need to get vaccinated?

Anyone can contract influenza and being healthy does not protect against infection. For those at high risk of developing complications from influenza, infection can result in a deterioration of the chronic condition, hospitalisation or even death. Risk groups commonly include elderly persons (age 65 and above), persons with long-term medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, or heart […]

Should health care workers be vaccinated?

Health care workers infected with influenza can transmit the highly contagious virus to patients in their care. This is particularly troubling for the many patients at high risk for influenza-related complications. In addition, infected healthcare workers have high risks of not being able to continue to care for their patients. Healthcare workers are therefore strongly […]

The right steps were taken

Scientific experts agree that declaring the pandemic stage for the “Swine flu” and advising to produce pandemic vaccines were absolutely the proper things to do given the science and technology at our disposal when the pandemic emerged. As early as March 2009, it was clear that the “Swine flu” had pandemic potential: it was a […]


Continuous global surveillance of influenza is key. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a network of 112 National Influenza Centres that monitor influenza activity and isolate avian influenza viruses across all continents. National Influenza Centres report the emergence of an unusual influenza virus immediately to the WHO Global Influenza Programme or to one of the […]

Pandemic alert phases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an alert system to help inform the world about the development of the different stages towards a pandemic. The alert system is comprised of six phases. The current situation with the HPAI-H5N1 virus in animals and humans places the world in pandemic alert phase 3. This means that […]

Vaccination during a pandemic

Since it is impossible to vaccinate the entire world population against a pandemic influenza virus when a pandemic emerges, it is necessary to determine which groups must be immunized with priority. After all, effective allocation of vaccines will play a critical role in slowing down the spread of the influenza pandemic and reducing its effects […]

Vaccination coverage rates

As vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent serious illness and death, especially in the at-risk groups, the World Health Organization (WHO) set clear vaccination coverage rate objectives for the elderly: 75% of those above 65 should be vaccinated annually by 2010. Despite the fact that most developed countries have very similar guidelines […]

Barriers for vaccination

Myths and misconceptions about influenza and influenza vaccination are major barriers to better protection of healthy and high-risk persons. Some common examples are: ‘The flu is just a common cold!’ ‘I had the flu last year, so I cannot get it this year.’ ‘You can get the flu from a flu shot.’ ‘Flu shots offer […]

Vaccination of healthcare workers

Healtcare workers should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza annually. Although healthy adults do not belong to the at-risk population, there are good reasons for healthcare providers to get immunised against influenza, especially when they have regular contacts with patients and high-risk patients. First of all, an obvious rule of thumb is that healthcare workers should […]