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Case study: Break the flu cycle

The multi-agency approach built advocacy throughout the UK influenza network

Published: 13 Jan 2019

Break the flu cycle

Client: Seqirus, Baird’s CMC, Cogora and OmniaMed

Agency: 90TEN Medical

Campaign: Break the Flu Cycle

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

Influenza is a serious and potentially fatal disease, and influenza-related complications lead to thousands of GP consultations and hospital admissions each year. Despite data showing that vaccine effectiveness was limited in over 65-year olds, and that some vaccines may be better for certain adult populations, the UK maintained a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. The collaborative approach discussed in this case study built awareness and engagement throughout the UK influenza network. It also contributed to changes in the UK influenza guidance issued by the JCVI and NHS England on the use of aTIV as the vaccine of choice for all adults aged 65 years and over for the 2018–2019 flu season. Cost-effectiveness data estimated that up to 1,700 lives could be saved between 2018 and 2020 due to this change in guidance.

Challenge

In July 2017 a new adjuvanted trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (aTIV) with an improved immune response in people aged 65 and over, gained UK marketing authorisation.

The challenge was to ‘break the influenza vaccination cycle and, ultimately, the flu-cycle itself’, shifting beliefs from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to adult vaccination practices in order to change behaviours and improve outcomes. The aim was to address the unmet influenza immunisation needs in people aged 65 and over and reduce the risk of influenza, subsequently mitigating influenza complications.

The following additional challenges were considered in reviewing the influenza vaccination landscape:

  • Awareness of immunosenescence, the age-related decline of the immune system, was low
  • There was no established need for a specific and personalised influenza vaccine approach for people
    aged 65 and over, given currently available non-adjuvanted vaccines showed limited effectiveness
  • Seqirus, the manufacturer of aTIV, was new to the UK market, which had previously been dominated by several established companies.

Solution

An inter-agency Seqirus partnership delivered the following workstreams to achieve our objectives:

Who could help us ‘Break the Flu Cycle’? 

Digital mapping techniques and qualitative research were used to understand the UK influenza influencer landscape. A clinical advisory board was held to decide on the strategy, discuss the scientific story and clarify unmet needs for all stakeholder groups.

Why we could ‘Break the Flu Cycle’:

An aTIV value dossier and HECON analysis was created for the JCVI, which provided a rationale for the vaccine and cost- benefit analysis in the over 65s. This piece established the value story for the brand.

‘Break the Flu Cycle’ meetings programme: 

Leading influenza experts were engaged to create a ‘surround sound’ meetings programme. This included nurse and GP symposia and three stand-alone, multi-disciplinary meetings that challenged the clinical inertia in influenza. Online marketing drove meetings attendance and engagement.

‘Break the Flu Cycle’ PR programme: 

Press releases were issued which highlighted that:

  • 1,700 lives could be saved by 2020 if the UK switched to aTIV
  • Seqirus investment in a manufacturing facility had created nearly 100 jobs and had strengthened reliability
  • JCVI and NHS England supported the use of aTIV for people aged 65 years and over in the 2018/19 flu season.

Results

To challenge the current cycle and clinical opinion of the ‘one-size-fits-all approach for adults’ (over 65 years) influenza vaccination, and highlighting the use and limited effectiveness of currently available vaccines options:

  • Over 1,666 HCPs were educated on current vaccination choices for specific populations through an extensive medical education initiative
  • 70% of nurses and 83% of GPs agreed this would result in changes to their clinical practice
  • 76% of delegates felt more confident in their ability to manage the influenza vaccination
  • Coverage of the reduction in NHS burden appeared in 19 target media.

Client verdict

Dr Jonathan KH Liu, Head of Medical Affairs UK, Seqirus, said:
“The agency teams did what I thought was impossible. They truly did ‘Break the Flu Cycle’ and help change influenza vaccination practices in a really positive way. In doing so, this meticulous and well-executed programme has contributed to improving awareness and engagement, encouraging the use of more appropriate vaccines with the ultimate goal of helping to prevent influenza infection, particularly among the more at-risk group of 65 years and over. Most importantly, the new vaccine could have a significant impact on public health, potentially leading to a saving through reduced GP consultations, hospital admissions and ultimately deaths.”

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