Seasonal influenza is placing increased pressure on hospital admissions, as those eligible for the vaccine have been urged to get it if they haven’t already.
Flu levels in the community are currently on the increase, as is typical at this time of year, but remain at low levels, according to the latest Public Health England (PHE) data.
During the second week of January, GP consultations with flu-like illness, hospital admission, and intensive care unit (ICU)/high dependency unit (HDU) admission rates all increased from 14.8 to 19.2 per 100,000, from 3.54 to 4.75 and from 0.42 to 0.50 per 100,000, respectively. This suggests flu is having a moderate impact on hospital admissions, and a high impact on ICU and HDU admissions.
“We are currently seeing mainly A(H1N1)pdm09 circulating which is well matched to the strains in this year’s flu vaccines,” said Dr Richard Pebody, Head of Flu at PHE.
Previous flu seasons suggest this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women, and adults with long-term conditions – so for those eligible for free flu vaccination it is not too late to protect themselves and vulnerable people around them by being vaccinated, he said.
According to the latest data, 70.5 per cent of adults over 65 years, 45.7 per cent of adults with a long-term health condition, 44.2 per cent of pregnant women, 44.2 per cent of three-year-olds, 42.4 per cent of two-year-olds, and 61.0 per cent of healthcare workers have received the vaccine.