Latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that seasonal flu activity remains high with increased admissions to intensive care units in London.
Over the last week, flu intensive care admission rates in London increased by 20%, whilst overall hospitalisation rates for flu increased by 6%. Since the start of the season 23 flu outbreaks have been reported in London, mostly affecting schools.
Vaccine uptake in some groups in London remains low, notably in 2 year olds (19%), 3 year olds (19%), those with long-term conditions (33%), and pregnant women (33%). Vaccine uptake in people aged 65 and over is higher at 60%, but lower than national uptake for this age group at 68%.
Professor Paul Plant, London regional director for Public Health England, said:
“Flu is starting to have an impact in London, but it can be prevented by getting the vaccine, which is still available at GP surgeries. Flu can be serious and even deadly for very young children, so parents should make sure their toddlers are vaccinated. Current evidence suggests the vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is circulating.
“To help stop the spread of 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.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, Regional Medical Director for the NHS in London, said:
“Our message is simple; the flu season is here and it can be dangerous for children. A quick, painless nasal spray from a GP can help little ones fight off the flu and keep safe.
“Fewer 2-3 year olds have had the vaccine this year, with just 1 in 5 of London’s toddlers protected. The nasal spray is in stock at GP surgeries, and I strongly encourage parents to book the free vaccine today.”
Visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu for more information on flu, including how to manage symptoms.