A swine flu (H1N1) pandemic swept the globe in 2009, reaching the U.K. in April 2009. The first infections in the U.K. were brought in by travelers from Mexico. By July 2, 2009, there had been 28,456 cases in the U.K. overall, and 6450 in Scotland. As a result of this, the Scottish authorities put a vaccination program in place for pandemic H1N1 2009 in October 2009, and a team of Scottish researchers have assessed its effectiveness in a paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The researchers looked at records from primary case and hospitals, as well as death certificates and virological swabs. They concluded that the vaccination program protected against pandemic influenza, as 77% of the people who had been vaccinated avoided infection with H1N1. The vaccine also cut the numbers of flu-related hospital admissions by 20%, as well as reducing the numbers of deaths.
"Our findings help strengthen the international evidence base for the effectiveness of H1N1 vaccination programs and the future distribution of pandemic influenza vaccines," said lead author Colin Simpson of the University of Edinburgh. "However, despite the best efforts to encourage the most vulnerable to be vaccinated, there were low rates of uptake in the very young and pregnant women who were most susceptible to the pandemic."
If these techniques could be used to monitor vaccine uptake and effects in real time, this could help authorities and healthcare providers to distribute vaccines more effectively and efficiently.