Flu activity appears to be nearing its peak

Author: Adrian O'Dowd

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The level of flu cases across the UK is showing signs of nearing its peak for this winter, according to Public Health England (PHE).

The latest PHE National Weekly Influenza Report was published yesterday afternoon, showing that seasonal flu continues to circulate across the UK, with early signs that activity is starting to peak.

The report, which details data from week three of 2019 in England, says that GP consultations with flu-like illness and intensive care admission rates remain at similar levels to last week – 19.6 from 19.2 per 100,000 patients in England and 0.54 from 0.55 per 100,000 respectively

There was also a slight increase in hospital admissions rates from 4.8 to 5.04 per 100,000 for the same week.

However, there was no statistically significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death seen yet overall or by age group in England this season.

In the devolved administrations, influenza-like illness rates were ‘below baseline’ threshold levels for Scotland and Northern Ireland and were at ‘medium’ intensity levels for Wales.

For vaccinations up to week 03 of this year, in the vast majority (97.2%) of GP practices, the provisional proportion of people in England who had received the 2018-19 flu vaccine in targeted groups was 46.2% in under 65 years in a clinical risk group, 44.5% in pregnant women and 70.8% in 65+ year-olds.

In the 97.3% of GP practices reporting for the childhood collection, the provisional proportion vaccinated was 42.7% in two-year-olds and 44.6% in three-year-olds.

Provisional data from the third monthly collection of flu vaccine uptake for children of school years, shows 62.6% in school year reception age, 62.2% in school year one age, 60.3% in school year two age, 59.1% in school year three age, 56.9% in school year four age and 55.1% in school year five age were vaccinated by 31 December 2018.

Other provisional data collection of flu vaccine uptake by frontline healthcare workers show 65.8% were vaccinated by 31 December 2018, compared to 63.9% vaccinated in the previous season by 31 December 2017.

Richard Pebody, head of flu at PHE said: “We are continuing to see flu circulate, with early signs that activity is peaking. The main circulating strain remains as A(H1N1)pdm09, which is well matched to the strains in this year’s flu vaccines.

“It is important to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene and to get the vaccine if you are eligible, although we are now coming to the end of the vaccine season.”


Editorial team, Wilmington Healthcare

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