Every day we read different stories and information about influenza. Here are some interesting facts and figures about influenza, or the flu, in the UK.
Last year, 602 people died with flu. Of the 587 deaths with information on age, 70 per cent of those deaths (415) were in young and middle aged people aged 15-64 years. Around 20 per cent (122) of deaths occurred in over 65s. Nine pregnant women were reported to have died from flu. There were 25 reported deaths in those aged five to 14 years, 16 in children aged between one and four and nine in children less than a year old.
Source: Health Protection Agency 4 May 2011
Why don't people have the flu jab?
A snapshot survey in 2008 found that, of those eligible people who don't have the jab:
32 per cent said it was because they are fit and healthy. 27 per cent said they don't feel at risk. 14 per cent didn't know they were eligible. 13 per cent said they rarely get flu. 9 per cent have never given it a thought. 6 per cent said they won't get round to it. 6 per cent said they don't like needles. 4 per cent said they don't believe the flu jab works. 9 per cent said they are too young to get the jab.
Likelihood of dying if you get flu and have a health condition:
People who are in the at risk group are 11 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person. In particular:
people with diabetes are 6 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person; people with chronic heart disease are 11 times more likely to die if they get flu that a 'healthy' person; people with chronic respiratory disease are 7 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person; people with chronic renal disease are 19 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person; people with chronic liver disease are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person; people undergoing medical treatment who may have a compromised immune system are 47 times more likley to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person; and people with a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy are 40 times more likely to die if they get flu than a 'healthy' person.
Number of reported confirmed fatal influenza cases by region in the UK during 2010/11 influenza season:
Country Region Number England 474 East of England 35 East Midlands 46 London 43 North East 34 North West 96 South East 48 South West 29 West Midlands 60 Yorkshire and Humber 83 Scotland 63 Wales 34 Northern Ireland 31
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who should have the vaccine? You should have the seasonal flu vaccination if you fall into any of the following groups: a. People aged 65 years or over b. Pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy c. People living in a residential or nursing home, or d. the main carer for an older or disabled person. Even if you feel healthy, you may still be at increased risk of seasonal flu. The free seasonal flu vaccination is recommended if you have: e. a heart problem f. a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema g. a kidney disease h. lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment) i. a liver disease j. had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) k. diabetes l. a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy m. a problem with, or removal of, your spleen e.g. sickle cell disease. How long does it take to become immune after the jab?
A person starts to develop immunity roughly 5 to 10 days after having the vaccine.
When should I have the flu jab?
It's best to get the flu jab as early as possible before flu levels start to rise.
I was vaccinated last year Ã¢Â€Â“ do I need to get vaccinated again this year?
Yes. We do not know how long last year's vaccination will last and for this reason we strongly recommend that even if you were vaccinated last year, you should be vaccinated again this year.
Is there an egg-free vaccine for people who are allergic to eggs?
Yes, an egg-free seasonal flu vaccine has been produced this year, although it is only authorised for use in adults. However, the low egg-content flu vaccines that are available for adults and children can be given to patients with severe egg allergy under specialist clinical supervision. Any at risk patient who has an egg allergy should seek medical advice from their GP.
Will swine flu still be around this winter?
It is anticipated that the H1N1v (Ã¢Â€Â˜Swine Flu') strain will circulate again in the 2011/12 winter flu season. Protection against this strain has been included in the seasonal flu vaccine as it was last year.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Seasonal flu can give you any of these symptoms: sudden fever (a temperature of 38Ã‚Â°C/100.4Ã‚Â°F or above), dry, chesty cough, headache, tiredness, chills, aching muscles, limb or joint pain, diarrhoea or stomach upset, sore throat, runny or blocked nose, sneezing, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping.
How long does flu last?
Your symptoms will usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. A cough and general tiredness may last for two to three weeks. What should you do if you get the flu?
Stay at home, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter cold and flu remedies or paracetamol. If your symptoms worsen or you are concerned, call your GP or NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Do not go to the surgery as you will infect others.
Can we do anything to stop the spread of flu?
Yes. We should all practice good hand and respiratory hygiene Ã¢Â€Â“ wash our hands regularly, cough or sneeze into tissues and throw the tissues in the bin.