The ‘flu season’ has begun, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.
Statistics released by PHE show that over the last week, hospitalisation and intensive care admission rates have increased 5.13 to 6.85 per 100,000 and from 0.23 to 0.35 per 100,000 respectively – suggesting flu is having a moderate impact on hospital admissions and intensive care unit and high dependency unit admissions. Additionally, GP consultations with flu-like illness have also increased, from 13.1 to 16.0 per 100,000.
‘Flu season has now started and so it’s really important that people get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to ensure they are protected against this potentially very serious illness,’ said Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Head of Flu at PHE. ‘The initial evidence suggests the vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is circulating.’
Patients and healthcare staff are being urged to vaccinate themselves against the flu. Currently, 68.7% of adults over 65, 37.1% of adults with a long-term health condition, 37.9% of pregnant women, 32.3% of 3-year-olds and 33.7% of 2-year-olds have received the vaccine. As of the end of November, 61.5% of healthcare workers and 43.6% of children from reception to year 6 were vaccinated.
‘Flu is very infectious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours,’ added Dr Lopez Bernal. ‘To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.’