Background: Influenza is a seasonal, highly contagious infectious disease and one of the most important respiratory tract infections, from a public health point of view. The most efficient and cost-effective means of combating influenza in the world is vaccination. Unfortunately, vaccination rates against influenza in Ukraine are low; eventhough Ukraine has an official published policy on seasonal influenza vaccination. Although seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended by the appropriate organizations, the vaccine is neither free of charge nor reimbursed.
Objectives: To describe vaccination coverage, morbidity and mortality data in Ukraine and to identify the main reason not to be vaccinated. The goal was to develop a communication strategy in favor of vaccination.
Methodology: Data from the national routine surveillance for influenza in the 2015-2016 season was assessed. After processing data a communication strategy was produced.
Results: During the season, 14.9% of the population were affected by influenza and with 733 cases of severe acute respiratory infection were identified, of which 391 deaths, including 5 children under the age of 17, 2 pregnant women and 3 fatal cases among healthcare workers. The population’s coverage of the vaccine against influenza was very low; specifically only 0.3% of the population was vaccinated during 2015-2016. The proportion of children vaccinated against influenza was 19.0%, with 5-9 years old and 10-14 years old being more vaccinated. Vaccines were mainly purchased by enterprises’ and organizations’ funds and by personal citizens’ means. Vaccine effectiveness was not estimated in Ukraine and cost effectiveness was estimated partially only in one region.
Conclusions: From the present research it was found that vaccination data was available for only 93.5% of deaths in 2015-2016 and none were vaccinated for seasonal influenza. In addition, the population’s coverage of the vaccination was very low. The majority of the respondents reported that healthcare workers did not recommend vaccination. Finally, a communication strategy for healthcare workers was suggested in order to strengthen vaccination.
Key words: Influenza vaccination, public health, risk groups, seasonal influenza, Ukraine