Flu pressures on intensive care units now as bad as at height

These figures are far lower than the same week last year, when there were 53.1 per 100,000 in England, but health officials said that younger people were less likely to go to the GP about flu.Throughout the last week, there were 237 admissions to intensive care or high dependency units for flu. This compares with 198 cases this time last year, with the same rate of 0.5 per 100,000 people seen in both years.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 – so if you’re eligible, it’s not too late to get your free jab to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.”Last month PHE officials pleaded with these groups to come forward for jabs.The failure of last year’s jabs fuelled the highest winter death toll for more than 40 years.This year, new types of vaccines are being offered, but the scramble to get hold of stocks meant GPs were asked to delay offering the jabs to some patients. Flu pressures on intensive care are as bad now as at the height of last year’s winter crisis, amid warnings that it may be linked to too few young people failing to have their jabs. ​A report from Public Health England reveals that levels of influenza are now having a high impact on intensive care and high-dependency units, amid rises in flu across the country.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––In the last fortnight, the number of cases seen by GPs has more than doubled.But 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.Last year winter deaths hit a 42-year high, after the flu jab failed to work in the vast majority of cases.Officials say this year’s vaccination is a good match – but warn that too few people are taking it.They say the pressures on intensive care units may be fuelled by low take-up of the jabs among pregnant women, and adults below the age of 65 with long-term conditions.These groups are particularly susceptible to the main strain in circulation – A (H1N1), also known as swine flu – which pensioners are more likely to have built immunity to.And they are also at increased risk of more severe consequences of the condition, experts warned.Just 43.6 per cent of pregnant women have had the jab so far this year, compared with 46 per cent this time last year. And only 44.7 per cent of adults with a chronic health condition have had the jab, compared with 47.5 per cent this time last year.The data shows that GP consultations for flu-like illness rose from 8.4 per 100,000 at the start of the year to 19.2 per 100,000 people in the last week. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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