HPS Weekly Report
23 Apr 2019
Volume 53 No. 16
European Immunisation Week, 24-30 April 2019
European Immunisation Week (EIW) runs from 24-30 April 2019. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region marks EIW to promote immunisation as vital to preventing diseases and protecting life.
EIW began in 2005 to celebrate the success of immunisation and to promote the message that vaccines save lives. Since then the initiative has grown into one of the most visible public health campaigns in the region. EIW is utilized by ministries, public health institutions, healthcare workers and other individuals in their efforts to sustain or increase immunisation coverage.
This year the campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination and to celebrate the 'vaccine heroes' who contribute in so many ways to protecting lives through vaccination.
'Vaccine heroes' include health workers who administer vaccines, parents who choose vaccination for their children, and everyone who seeks evidence-based information and passes it on to empower others. This concept is further embedded in the larger framework of World Immunisation Week (also 24-30 April 2019), which will focus on the theme 'Protected Together, Vaccines Work'.
EIW’s key messages and facts about vaccines will be disseminated in countries across the region through information campaigns, interviews, blogs, panel discussions, press releases, television programmes, scientific conferences and other activities, many of which will be attended by immunisation experts from WHO and partner organizations. Highlights will be published after the event in the form of an EIW annual report.
Source: WHO Europe, April 2019
Green book chapter on immunisation updated
Chapter 11 of the Green Book, which addresses immunisation in the UK for public health professionals, has been fully updated. The updates reflect all of the recent changes to the routine childhood immunisation schedule as well as those to the adult programme.
The revised recommendations for administering more than one live vaccine have now been incorporated into this chapter.
The overall aim of the UK’s routine immunisation schedule is to provide protection against the following vaccine-preventable infections:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- hepatitis B
- human papillomavirus (certain types)
- meningococcal disease (certain serogroups)
- pertussis (whooping cough)
- pneumococcal disease (certain serotypes)
Source: PHE, 15 April 2019
ECDC rapid risk assessment on Ebola in the DRC updated
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has released an update to its rapid risk assessment on the ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is the fourth update to the rapid risk assessment, which was originally produced on 9 August 2018.
The rapid risk assessment addresses the public health risk associated with the current Ebola virus outbreak in the DRC and its implications for EU and EEA citizens.
The update was triggered by an increase of EVD transmission in the affected areas over recent weeks, the persistent occurrence of new cases among contacts unknown at the time of EVD diagnosis, the occurrence of a substantial number of cases outside of the ring vaccination contacts and current challenges for the prevention and control of EVD.
Despite this, the probability that EU/EEA citizens living or travelling in EVD-affected areas of the DRC will be exposed to the virus is low provided they adhere to recommended precautionary measures.
The most likely route of importation of the virus into the EU/EEA is through infected travellers from affected areas. Since the volume of travellers is small, there are no international airports in the affected areas with direct flights to EU/EEA member states and exit screening is in place at Goma airport, the risk of EVD-infected people arriving in the EU/EEA is very low. However, the risk can only be eliminated by stopping transmission at local level.
Source: ECDC, 17 April 2019
WHO provisional surveillance data shows an increase in measles
World Health Organization (WHO) provisional surveillance data for 2019 shows that measles cases have continued to climb in WHO member states. The data shows that reported cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years.
While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend. Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases. Current outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths, mostly among young children.
Over recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States of America as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.
Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, with the potential to be extremely severe. In 2017, the most recent year for which estimates are available, it caused close to 110,000 deaths. Even in high-income countries, complications result in hospitalisation in up to a quarter of cases and can lead to lifelong disabilities from brain damage and blindness to hearing loss.
The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. However for several years, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85%. This is still short of the 95% needed to prevent outbreaks and leaves many people at risk. Second dose coverage, while increasing, stands at 67% percent.
Source: WHO, 15 April 2019
Clean Up Scotland spring clean, April-May 2019
Littering, including dog fouling and fly-tipping, continues to be a serious problem in Scotland with current levels being the worst in a decade.
The charity Keep Scotland Beautiful is running its annual campaign in April and May which aims to encourage businesses, communities, schools and other organisations to organise and take part in ‘Clean Up’ events to remove litter from the local environment.
Last year there were over 400 events across Scotland, and 30,000 people took part.
The ‘Clean Up Scotland’ map allows groups or individuals to find events near them, and get involved this year.
Keep Scotland Beautiful also aims to increase awareness and understanding of litter prevention by caring for an area after it has been cleaned and has developed a ‘Litter Pick Plus’ toolkit to assist people to get more out of their participation in the clean ups.
More information can be found on the Keep Scotland Beautiful website.