NHS urged to consider quadrivalent flu jab
The NHS and other European healthcare providers should start administering quadrivalent vaccines to better protect against the influenza virusÂ according toÂ GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
In the UK, the NHS recommends that adults receive aÂ jabÂ known as a trivalentÂ fluÂ vaccine, which only protects against three of these four strains. But data suggests that the fourth strain â€“ sometimes known as â€˜JapaneseÂ fluâ€™ â€“ is now the most prevalent in Europe.
Thomas Moore,Â Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, comments: â€œBy most measures, the 2017â€“2018 influenza season has thus far been particularly severe, and the disease is currently placing a significant burden on healthcare services in Europe and North America.â€Â Â
The more expensive quadrivalent vaccines are the most prescribed influenza vaccine in the US. However, most European patients still receive the trivalent vaccine. In the UK, the NHS only provides a quadrivalent vaccine to children below the age of 18, with all other patients receiving a trivalent vaccine.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the differentÂ fluÂ strains in circulation suggest that use of the trivalent vaccine may have caused an increased circulation of JapaneseÂ fluÂ in Europe.
Of cases tested across Europe during the 2017â€“2018 season, 65% have been Influenza B, of which the most common subtype has been JapaneseÂ flu. In comparison, only 9% of patients in the US have been found to have JapaneseÂ flu, with the H3N2 strainâ€”also known as â€˜AussieÂ Fluâ€™ â€”being the most prevalent at 78% of infections.
Moore continues: â€œThere are several factors that could contribute to the difference in influenza strains observed between continents. For example, a high prevalence of the H3N2 strain in Europe during the 2016â€“2017 season is expected to have carried over some protection against AussieÂ fluÂ this year. However, it is highly likely that the stark difference in prevalence of JapaneseÂ fluÂ between Europe and the US is affected by the continued use of trivalent vaccines.â€
The quadrivalent influenza vaccines that are currently available in the UK are GlaxoSmithKlineâ€™sÂ Fluarix Tetra, which launched in 2013, and Sanofi Pasteurâ€™s quadrivalent influenza vaccine, which launched in 2017. At a cost of Â£9.94 and Â£8.00 respectively, GlobalData points out that these vaccines only cost the NHS slightly more than trivalent vaccines, which cost approximately Â£6 perÂ jab, depending on supplier.
With research suggesting a possible link between COVID-19 and EPs, make sure you’re confident discussing EPs and their treatment with customers