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Seasonal influenza - winter 2010
On 10 August 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) pandemic was officially over.
However, the H1N1 flu virus is one of the main viruses circulating this winter (2010/11). Therefore, the H1N1 flu virus antigen is included as one of the three strains in all 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccines. The other two strains of flu this year's vaccine protects against are H3N2 and influenza type B.
A yearly seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for people in vulnerable groups, such as adults age 65 years and older, and any adults or children age 6 months and older with serious underlying medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease. Pregnant women are also included this year. These individuals are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms or complications with flu.
Information about the seasonal flu vaccination can be found on the NHS Choices website:
NHS Choices - Seasonal flu jab (external link)
How to report suspected side effects to flu medicines and vaccines
If you think that you or somebody you know has experienced a suspected adverse drug reaction to a flu medicine or vaccine please report it to us through the MHRA’s Yellow Card Scheme using the online Yellow Card reporting portal at: www.yellowcard.gov.uk
The Yellow Card Scheme is run by the MHRA and the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), and is used to collect information from both health professionals and the general public on suspected side effects or ADRs to a medicine. Its continued success depends on the willingness of people to report suspected ADRs.
Swine flu pandemic vaccines and antivirals: Safety review
The MHRA played a major, active role during the swine flu pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an official influenza pandemic (phase 6) on 11 June 2009, reflecting global spread of a new strain of human flu H1N1 virus. A UK-wide strategy of offering a flu antiviral (oseltamivir or zanamivir) to everyone with flu-like illness was implemented.
In October 2009, a mass immunisation campaign with the novel pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccines Pandemrix and Celvapan commenced across the UK. A vaccine was offered to all front-line health and social-care workers, those at increased risk of flu complications, and healthy children.
An article outlining the safety experience of these medicines in the UK from our proactive safety monitoring strategy was published in the October 2010 issue of 'Drug Safety Update', our monthly newsletter for healthcare professionals.
Drug Safety Update - Pandemic vaccines and antivirals: safety review
A Public Assessment Report summarising a review of the safety data on the pandemic medicines and vaccines is also available below. No new risks have been identified with the extensive use of these products in the UK during the swine flu pandemic, and the balance of their benefits and risks remains positive.
MHRA Public Assessment Report - Swine flu vaccines and antiviral medicines: UK post-pandemic safety review (February 2011) (254Kb)
Adverse drug reaction (ADR) summaries during the swine flu pandemic
Based on the reports submitted through the Yellow Card Scheme, the MHRA published weekly summaries of all suspected side effects (ADRs) reported in the UK for the swine flu vaccines and antiviral medicines during the swine flu pandemic.
The final vaccine report was published on 1 April 2010 and includes all reported side effects to Celvapan and Pandemrix.
Information to help interpret the data on suspected side effects (634Kb)
1 April 2010: Final public ADR summary (634Kb)
The final report on suspected ADRs reported for Tamiflu and Relenza was published on 4 February 2010.
Suspected adverse drug reaction (ADR) analysis: influenza antivirals - Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) (240Kb)