November 30, 2017

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Influenza Surveillance Update – Alicia Budd (CDC)

Alicia provided highlights of the influenza surveillance report from week 47, ending on November 25, 2017. Overall, influenza activity is increasing throughout the country.

The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories was 7.2%.. The majority of specimens (75.6%) tested at public health laboratories were influenza A, and 24.4% were influenza B. Influenza A H3 continues to be the dominant strain reported, though smaller numbers of influenza A (H1) and influenza B also have been reported. For the 2017–2018 season as a whole, 89.1% of influenza A specimens were H3. For the B viruses for which lineage information was available, 62.4% were B Yamagata. Specimens characterized since May have been antigenically and genetically similar to the reference virus for this season’s vaccine. There has been no antiviral resistance detected to date.

Nationwide, influenza-like illness (ILI) activity was at 2.3%, above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 of the HHS regions are below their region-specific baselines. ILI information also is available on a state level, with activity summarized as high, moderate, low, or minimal. Last week, 3 states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina) reported high ILI activity, 1 state (Georgia) reported moderate ILI activity, 10 states reported low ILI activity, and 36 states and the District of Columbia reported minimal ILI activity. Data were insufficient to calculate an ILI activity level from Puerto Rico.

Based on reports from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) surveillance system available for the week ending November 11, 5.7% of deaths were due to pneumonia and influenza (P&I). This percentage is below the epidemic threshold of 6.5% for the week.

No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during week 47. For the 2017–2018 season, the total number of reported pediatric deaths remains at five.

In terms of geographic spread of influenza within a state (characterized as regional, local, sporadic, or no activity) as reported by state and territorial epidemiologists, 4 states (Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma) reported widespread activity, 10 states and Guam reported regional activity, 24 states and Puerto Rico reported local activity, and 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.


National Influenza Vaccination Week – Kathleen LaPorte (CDC)

Kathleen reminded callers that this year’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) will take place on December 3–9. CDC has several helpful communication resources available, including print materials and animated images to share. A digital media toolkit includes pre-scripted messages to share in newsletters and through social media messages. In addition, Kathleen mentioned multiple events that will be going on during the week. On December 4, CDC will be participating in two twitter chats. The first chat, which will focus on the importance of flu shots, will be hosted by the American Hospital Association and will take place at 11 a.m. on that day at #NIVW2017. The second twitter chat (#FightFluChat), hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, will occur at 1 p.m. and will include Wendy Sue Swanson and CDC personnel.

Finally, during this week CDC will be promoting its new FluFighter series. This series focuses on CDC personnel who are making great strides in flu prevention, such as people who work in the lab, on surveillance, and on flu prevention communications. The goal is to help provide a personal face behind all the work that is being done in flu prevention. The series also features partners such as pediatric nurses, ob/gyns, and grassroots organizations. CDC invites partners to share their own FluFighter stories using the hashtag #FluFighter. Katherine shared templates of the FluFighters graphic for Facebook and Twitter and also provided instructions on how to use these tools.

Partners with questions on any of the NIVW information can email Kathleen LaPorte or fluinbox@cdc.gov.


Announcements – Amy Parker Fiebelkorn
  • 2018 Summit In-Person Meeting

Amy reminded callers that the 2018 Summit in-person meeting will be held in conjunction with the National Immunization Conference (NIC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The NIC will be May 15–17, and the Summit will be May 17–18. Attendees are encouraged to participate in both events.

Information on registration and submission of poster abstracts for NIC is now available online. A separate abstract submission process will be available soon for the NAIIS meeting. The poster/networking session will be held on Thursday evening, May 17.

  • Southern Hemisphere Influenza VE Reports

A Summit partner asked if CDC had any messages to share about recent news reports suggesting low flu vaccine effectiveness in Australia. Alicia noted that H3 vaccine effectiveness is always challenging. The information from Australia is based on small numbers with wide confidence intervals. This appears to be related to the general issues we have with H3 vaccine effectiveness. As it becomes available, Alicia will send additional information to Amy to share with Summit partners.