19 January 2021
Volume: 55 Issue: 03
- Influenza vaccine uptake in Scotland
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
- UK closes all travel corridors
- Green Book updates
- ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on smallpox
- ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on congenital toxoplasmosis
- ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on rabies
- UNICEF, WHO, IFRC and MSF announce the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile
- Scottish Government funding to help communities drive climate action
HPS Weekly Report
19 Jan 2021
Volume 55 No. 03
Influenza vaccine uptake in Scotland
On 13 January 2021, Public Health Scotland (PHS) published its weekly national seasonal respiratory report, containing epidemiological information on seasonal influenza activity in Scotland. As of Week 1, ending 10 January 2021, influenza activity was at low levels. Provisional data showed the incidence rate of influenza was at baseline activity level, or 0.05 per 100,000 of the population.
The data includes the estimated influenza vaccine uptake to the end of Week 51 (20 December 2020). The report finds that influenza vaccine uptake in Scotland, in most eligible cohorts, was higher than in previous seasons, although the data are not directly comparable. As of Week 51, provisional data on influenza vaccine were estimated as:
- 79% for those aged 65 years and over
- 53.8% for those under 65 years old in an at-risk group
- 44.5% in pregnant women (including those with and without risk factors)
- 59.3% in preschool children (aged two to under five years, not yet in school)
- 75.3% in primary school children
- 39.6% in health and social care staff
- 54.1% in unpaid and young carers
PHS will issue its next report on influenza vaccine uptake in Scotland on 10 February 2021.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises British nationals against all but essential travel, exempting some countries that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. This advice is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice.
The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section on each country page of fitfortravel and the 'Emerging Health Risks' section of every TRAVAX country page. This risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed.
In January 2021, the COVID-19 risk for UK travellers was increased in the following countries:
- Falkland Islands
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- United Arab Emirates
The COVID-19 risk rating and travel advice from the FCDO is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice. All travellers are advised to continue following sensible precautions and consider the following sources of information listed below.
Advice for travellers
Before planning or booking international travel, please check:
- the UK Border Control website, in order to check current rules regarding self-isolation (quarantine) before your planned return to the UK
- the FCDO website, for country specific Travel Advisory Notices regarding travel and entry restrictions, and review the local medical care available at your destination
- the COVID-19 risk-rating at your destination, which will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section of all fitfortravel country pages and the ‘Emerging Health Risks’ section of all TRAVAX country pages
- the TRAVAX travel insurance page, as such insurance should be considered essential
- the fitfortravel COVID-19 health considerations for travel page
- physical distancing and hygiene measures in the country you are visiting
Mandatory testing for travellers
From 18 January 2021, travellers from international destinations, including returning UK nationals, must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival in Scotland, England and Wales. Further information on international arrivals in Northern Ireland is expected soon. This measure is being introduced to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally.
The COVID-19 test must be undertaken a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival back into Scotland, England or Wales. Travellers will have to make arrangements in the destination country to access testing. Failure to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test may result in boarding being denied for the journey, or a fine on arrival. This measure is in addition to the need to self-isolate on return to the UK.
Information relating to travel and COVID-19 is available on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and fitfortravel (for the public) websites.
Information on COVID-19 for the general public is available on the NHS Inform (Scotland) and the NHS.UK (rest of the UK) websites.
Information and resources on COVID-19 for health professionals is available on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) (Scotland) and Public Health England (PHE) (rest of the UK) websites.
UK closes all travel corridors
All UK travel corridors, which allowed arrivals from some countries to avoid having to quarantine, have now closed until at least 15 February 2021. Travel corridors were suspended at 4am on the 18 January 2021, and travellers arriving from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man will need to self-isolate for ten days.
Guidance concerning the suspension of travel corridors has been published for Scotland and England.
Green Book updates
Public Health England’s (PHE) online Green Book contains the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures, for vaccine preventable infectious diseases in the UK. Healthcare professionals involved in immunisation are reminded that the Green Book is continually being updated to reflect changing guidance, and this resource should be checked regularly to ensure the most current guidance is being used.
Recent updates include:
- Immunity and how vaccines work: Chapter 1, which now includes information on the newest types of vaccine that use the pathogen’s genetic code (DNA or RNA vaccines).
- COVID-19: Chapter 14a, which provides information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, the dosage and schedule for the UK and recommendations for the use of the vaccine.
Source: TRAVAX, 11 January 2021
ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on smallpox
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published its annual epidemiological report on smallpox for 2019. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, and there were no reports of possible, probable, or confirmed cases in the EU/EEA in 2019.
Source: ECDC, 13 January 2021
ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on congenital toxoplasmosis
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published its annual epidemiological report on congenital toxoplasmosis for 2018. There were 208 confirmed cases of congenital toxoplasmosis were reported in the EU/EEA in 2018, with France accounting for 73% of all confirmed cases due to active screening of pregnant women.
Source: ECDC, 14 January 2021
ECDC publish annual epidemiological report on rabies
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published its annual epidemiological report on rabies for 2019. EU/EEA countries reported five human Lyssavirus infections. Four human cases of travel-related rabies were reported by Italy, Latvia, Spain and Norway with exposure in Tanzania, India, Morocco and the Philippines, respectively. One locally-acquired fatal case of European bat lyssavirus (EBLV-1) infection was reported by France.
Source: ECDC, 14 January 2021
UNICEF, WHO, IFRC and MSF announce the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile
On 12 January 2021, four international health and humanitarian organizations announced the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile to help ensure outbreak response. The effort to establish the stockpile was led by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The stockpile will allow countries, with the assistance of humanitarian organizations, to help contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks.
UNICEF manages the stockpile on behalf of the ICG which, as with stockpiles of cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines, will be the decision-making body for its allocation and release. The stockpile is stored in Switzerland, ready to be shipped to countries for emergency response. The decision to allocate the vaccine will be made within 48 hours of receiving a request from a country, and vaccines will be made available together with ultra-cold chain packaging by the manufacturer for shipment to countries within 48 hours of the decision. The targeted overall delivery time from the stockpile to countries is seven days.
Source: WHO, 12 January 2021
Scottish Government funding to help communities drive climate action
The Scottish Government has awarded approximately £3.2 million in funding to help communities drive climate action and support Scotland’s green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 279 projects will be funded through the Community Climate Asset Fund, including schemes to deliver electric bikes, food growing equipment, and glazing to improve energy efficiency.
The Community Climate Asset Fund is administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful as part of the Climate Challenge Fund initiative. Details are available on the Keep Scotland Beautiful website, together with a full list of successful recipients. The projects will be completed by the end of March 2021.