In March 2009, a 10-year-old boy with asthma in California developed fever, cough and vomiting. After about a week, he recovered. But he was the first patient identified with a new pandemic influenza A strain (H1N1pdm09).1
Flu pandemics occur every 10–40 years.2 So, the next pandemic strain could be lurking somewhere. The World Health Organisation (WHO) monitors changes in influenza globally and suggests which strains to include in the seasonal vaccine.
Even in non-pandemic years, influenza causes about 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness.3 On average, influenza infects 18% of unvaccinated people each winter and kills 290,000 to 650,000 people worldwide.3, 4 People aged at least 65 years account for up to 90% of deaths from influenza.5 Yet many people who could protect themselves – even healthcare professionals (HCPs) – don’t get the jab. This feature briefly summarises the 2019/20 recommendations and stresses the importance of increasing vaccine uptake.
Types of flu