Public Health England has reported “high but not unprecedented levels” of flu being seen in the first week of January. The figures for hospital admissions during the first two weeks in December 2017 were in line with those seen in 2016 at between 1-2 per 100,000 people. In the first week of January that figure had increased dramatically to over 7 per 100,000 people.
Public Health England figures for 22 of 137 NHS Trusts show that in the region of 5000 people were admitted to hospital in early January. At the same time 22,000 people visited their GP’s in early January.
There has been media coverage in the past month about the H3N2 strain of flu which is an influenza A virus which has been called Aussie flu. In addition, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine has been called into question by some due to figures for last Winter from Public Health England which showed that in 2016-17 the flu vaccination offered “no significant protection” to those aged 65 and over.
Next winter will see the introduction of a new flu “super” vaccine for the over 75’s but it is not yet clear whether it will be available to the over 65 population. In the absence of the new vaccine good hygiene for those with flu can help to prevent the spread of what is after all a virus.
“Regular hand washing and when blowing your nose disposing of the tissue are simple steps that everyone can take,” said Dan Archer of Visiting Angels in Sheffield. “We understand that the elderly are more at risk and we have taken steps to ensure that our team have the vaccine and if they are ill that they do not try to carry on regardless. Our sector is one where someone struggling to work with flu like symptoms can cause a problem so we encourage the team to rest and remain at home to prevent infection.”