Online Program

Effects on current ILI (Influenza-like-illness) trends in Poland, including the previous public health strategy of non-vaccination against the 2009/10 H1N1 swine flu virus pandemic

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Piotr Holownia, PhD, Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, Warsaw, Poland
Lucyna Kapka-Skrzypczak, PhD, University of Information Technology and Management, Department of Public Health, Rzeszow, Poland, Institute of Rural Health, Independent Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Lublin, Poland, Lublin, Poland
Marek Posobkiewicz, PhD MD, Chief Sanitary Inspectorate in Poland, Warsaw, Poland
Polish health authorities resisted vaccinating its population against the 2009/10 swine flu pandemic strain, in stark contrast to most other countries. Instead, a phased action policy was adopted of firstly identification and isolation followed by containment as managed by the Polish Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (GIS), where plans were designed, (2001-5) by the country's foremost experts in response/according to alerts and recommendations from WHO, ECDC etc. The global epidemiological situation was closely monitored throughout by GIS, thereby ensuring a flexible and appropriate reaction to the pandemic. The mild disease course together with similarly usual seasonal ILI rates, (50/100,000 weekly) vindicated this approach. Latest WHO/ECDC data however now show that Poland has the highest EU ILI, (522/100,000) and increasing, albeit at deceasing rates; EU ILIs ranging 2.3-27.5, 52.2-119.6 and 170-522/100,000 for respectively n= 8, 8 and 6 countries providing data. An obvious and priority target for decreasing ILI is to increase vaccination rates; Poland having by far the lowest EU ones, and decreasing; <4%, (elderly 16%). Studies have identified several contributing factors, not just free vaccination provision; ie. incorrect knowledge how flu is spread, a powerful Polish anti-vaccination lobby, misplaced confidence in medication and widespread belief in various flu myths (eg. cold temperatures causing flu). Furthermore, the decision taken in 2009 not to vaccinate against swine flu is now mistakenly perceived that, as a whole, flu vaccination is ineffective. The GP's role is acknowledged as being paramount together with educational campaigns targeted at all age groups. Appropriate remedial action is thus being formulated.

Learning Areas:

Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess the current effects of Poland’s non-vaccination policy vs swine flu (at the time of the pandemic in 2009/10), and to identify problem areas and vulnerable groups that can now be targeted for remedial action in order to reduce the high ILI rates observed.

Keyword(s): Infectious Diseases, Disease Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Educated to BSc, MSc & PhD level in UK and Poland in the biomedical sciences. Over 20 years experience in medical research at major UK teaching hospitals followed by senior scientist positions in industry, (pharmaceutical, drug discovery and medical diagnostics). Further experience gained as a specialist in regulatory affairs at the Polish office for registration of medicinal products, devices and biocides. Since 2008, Public Health advisor to the Polish Chief Sanitary Inspector at ministerial level.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.