National campaign on immunization against influenza “A step ahead of the flu”. Targeting health care workers - Germany

The Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) in cooperation with the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) has organised an on-going influenza immunization campaign “Ich komme der Grippe zuvor.” (“A step ahead of the flu.”). The campaign is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Health. The Starting in autumn 2006 using a ‘multiplier approach’ and supported by the German Medical Association, posters and flyers for patients were sent to all doctors giving vaccines in Germany (approximately 55,000 doctors). Additionally in 2007/8 particular material for Health Care Workers was developed and sent to all hospitals (~2000) and Long Term Care Facilities   (LTCFs~7300) in Germany in season 2007/08.After the 2007/8 influenza season telephone interviews of a representative sample of the target groups: doctors in practice, hospitals and LTCF were conducted to evaluate the campaign. The evaluation showed good acceptance and use of the distributed materials and further need for support of local activities of physicians in practice. For evaluation of the activities in institutions, the persons in charge of medical services of the hospitals (n=200) and LTCF (n=500) were interviewed. The interviews suggested only a moderate and non statistically significant increase of the average immunization rate of eligible staff in hospitals from 17.5% to 22.2% after the intervention in 2007/08.To boost these low immunizations rates in hospitals the campaign has put a special focus on HCWs in season 2008/09. International experience, the evaluation of the campaign and a workshop conducted in 2007 with occupational physicians suggested the importance of multifaceted approaches to increase vaccination coverage in the hospital setting. Free and easy availability of immunization, extensive education and promotion combined with incentives along with the involvement and dedication of local actors seem to be the keys for successful interventions.The national campaign of RKI and BZgA supports local activities by providing tailored posters and booklets, a CD with flash animation on influenza, a presentation for in-house education, text modules for local media work and a ‘good practice’ example of a successful intervention. Cups with the slogan of the campaign and a raffle with book gift vouchers for HCW are used as incentives to increase the motivation to get a flu shot. Additionally a ‘good practice’ contest of successful interventions in participating hospitals will be conducted in cooperation with eleven Federal States and the German Hospital Association.

The winning interventions will be considered as potential models for successful approaches in the following years. To increase the vaccination coverage of HCW and other influenza risk groups, it is important to secure the sustainability of the campaign. To profit from the experiences of other European countries it is important to exchange materials and lessons learned from other successful campaigns on influenza prevention and immunization.

The used material of the campaign in German can be ordered and downloaded from the website of the BZgA.

Influenza pages of the RKI

The Influenza pages of the RKI provide specific information for the public, press and expert audience. In addition Internet-links to national and international ministries, public authorities and organisations concerned with pandemic preparedness are provided. Visit the website

Publicity campaign ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’ - the importance of good respiratory and hand hygiene - UK

This UK communications campaign aims to encourage the public to practise correct respiratory and hand hygiene when coughing and sneezing, and to change current behavior, in order to prevent the spread of viruses particularly during the colds and flu season. Visit the website

In addition, the UK have also produced an accompanying video. Watch the video

Microsite dedicated to children - Portugal

Since March 2006, the Portuguese Directorate-General of Health (DGS) has created and launched the microsite on influenza specially dedicated to children under 15 years old, called  “Atchim”(meaning “sneeze”).  This microsite is linked to the microsite on influenza, which is directly linked to the home website of DGS and it was designed as part of the strategic project regarding communication and information to the public on public health issues, which includes a hot line and publications (pamphlets, posters, brochures, etc) dedicated to the general public. This Portuguese microsite has attractive texts for children. Its visual presentation has a good combination of colours and images regarding the influenza virus, seasonal flu, avian flu and pandemic flu. The information focuses on preventive measures, symptoms of the disease and the vaccines.  It also includes interactive games regarding the issues mentioned above with a pedagogical philosophy of “playing and learning.”

ECDC Comment (30 April 2007):

Communications is one of the main components of pandemic preparedness and within the development of pandemic plans is now well recognized the relevance of communication and information strategies for the public.  The role of children on the transmission of influenza is well known,. In our days, children are used to the internet as one of the main sources of information. This microsite “Atchim” with information on influenza prevention and control, fully dedicated to children is an interesting innovation among the EU institutional public health websites, making a good contribution to the pandemic preparedness activities, regarding communication strategies for a specific target group.

Crisis Communication regarding Avian flu – a Collaboration between National Authorities - Sweden

A poster presented by Sweden at the IV Joint EC /ECDC /WHO Workshop on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness in Luxembourg in September 2007 describes actions taken by the Swedish authorities to rapidly develop communication infrastructure to meet the public demand for information on avian influenza following the identification of infection in birds in Sweden. The poster describes actions taken including joint action, including rapidly setting up a national call centre and information website. Read more