On 27 April 2009 a new strain of influenza was detected in Scotland, a matter of days after it had first been identified in Mexico and classified in the USA. Already on 24 April, UK government and public health organisations had begun preparations to respond to a potential pandemic. In line with the UK’s overall response to civil contingencies and the pandemic influenza plan, UK-wide political, civil service and scientific advisory structures were put in place in May to manage the response to the pandemic. With the rapid spread of the virus on 11 June 2009, the World Health Organisation declared that a pandemic was occurring.
Within Scotland, the Scottish Government set up its own structures to manage the response to the pandemic which was composed of two phases: the containment phase, with the aim of limiting the spread of the infection, and the treatment phase, with the aim of mitigating its impact on health and ensuring the continued routine functioning of society.
As the pandemic evolved, it became clear that its impact would not be as severe as first feared. It mainly affected younger people who on the whole, had better health. However certain parts of the population were particularly at risk, especially children under 5 years of age, those with ongoing illnesses which could be complicated by the flu and pregnant women.
Because of this, UK Health Departments, after receiving expert scientific advice, decided to offer immunisation to large sections of the population to lower their chances of suffering significant disease.
Health Protection Scotland coordinated the influenza A(H1N1) vaccination programme in Scotland.
This report details the planning and management of the programme, the lessons learnt and key conclusions and makes a series of recommendations. It is one of a number of reports on the pandemic including the independent review of the pandemic response jointly commissioned by all four UK administrations; the Government’s capture through the civil contingencies process, of lessons learned and HPS’s report on the overall health protection response to the pandemic in Scotland.