Public Health England (PHE) has claimed that the levels of flu and influenza are putting significant pressure on intensive care units to the same level as experienced during last year’s winter crisis.
The claims come with a warning that it may be linked to low numbers of people having the flu vaccination this year. PHE are now urging those most vulnerable to get themselves vaccinated in a bid to prevent catching the virus.
In the last fortnight, the number of cases seen by GPs has more than doubled. However, a far greater impact has been seen in hospital intensive care units, with just as many cases as seen this time last year (when the NHS had the worst winter crisis on record) and so far this week three people died of flu at Northwick Park Hospital.
Last year there was a 42 year high in winter deaths after the flu jab failed to work on the vast majority of those vaccinated. Health Officials say this year’s vaccination is a good match but have highlighted that not enough people are protecting themselves with the vaccination.
In particular, the pressure on intensive care units is said to be have been fuelled by the low take up of jabs amongst pregnant women and adults below the age of 65 who suffer from existing conditions.
These groups are particularly susceptible to the main strain in circulation – A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, a strain in which pensioners are more likely to have built immunity to.
Just 43.6 per cent of pregnant women have had the jab so far this year, 3 per cent down on last year and only 44.7 per cent of adults with chronic health issues down 0.8 per cent on last year.
Richard Pebody, head of flu at PHE, said: “We are currently seeing mainly A(H1N1)pdm09 circulating, which is well matched to the strains in this year’s flu vaccines.
“Previous flu seasons suggest this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women, and adults with long-term conditions – it’s not too late to get your jab to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.”
Here at Harrow Health Care, we offer a flu vaccination service at our centre. Contact us on 0208 861 1221 (Option 0) to book your appointment today.