Seasonal Flu Update

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The latest figures on seasonal flu have been published today by Health Protection Scotland.

Vaccine uptake has improved amongst pregnant women who have no other risk factors. Now 27 per cent of this group have taken up the offer of vaccination -an increase on last week’s figure of 19 per cent.

The report also shows that:

  • A rate of GP consultations for flu-like illness across Scotland of 55.8 per 100,000, an increase from last week’s figure of 45.8 per 100,000
  • This GP consultation rate now reflects normal seasonal influenza activity i.e. greater than 50 consultations per 100,000
  • Highest rates were observed in the under 1s – 288 and 186 per 100,000 population for the previous two weeks respectively. The 1-4 years age group is also high at 244 and 251 per 100,000 population for the previous two weeks respectively. These rates are less than was seen at this time last year
  • The uptake rate for people under the age of 65 who are eligible for the vaccine is now 48.4 per cent. Amongst those aged 65 and over the rate stands at 71.5 per cent
  • Of the 360 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza reported over the last 11 weeks, 237 tested positive for H1N1, while the remainder were positive for other flu strains
  • In the last week 12 people with laboratory confirmed influenza have required management in intensive care as a result of severe infection. Two of these people have died. Since the start of the flu season there have been a total of 23 people who have required intensive care treatment and four deaths

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

“We are seeing the number of people consulting their GP with a flu-like illness starting to increase, but not yet above the levels that would be expected at this time of year.

“The highest rates are among the under fives. The majority of healthy children experience mild symptoms from flu and current expert advice is that they do not need to be vaccinated. Children with an underlying health condition, such as asthma, should get the vaccine.

“Decisions on who should receive the seasonal flu vaccine are based on recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent panel of experts that provides advice to all UK health departments. The committee constantly reasses its advice against available evidence and the most recent information.

“I am pleased to see the number of pregnant women receiving the vaccination has increased dramatically in the last week. I would continue to encourage all pregnant women who have not had the jab to come forward for this safe and effective vaccine as uptake needs to be as high as possible to minimise readily preventable illness in both mother and child.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a further two people die due to seasonal flu. I continue to urge those eligible to come forward and accept the vaccination. This is the best way to protect yourself against the virus.”

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, said:

“Although recent figures show that the number of people with flu is up from last week, thankfully the number of eligible people receiving the vaccine has also increased. If they have not already done so, I urge pregnant women, people over 65 and those who are at risk under 65 to contact their surgery to receive the vaccine. The vaccine has been thoroughly tested and protects those at risk from serious complications from the flu. It can, quite simply, save your life.

“Doctors across Scotland are all working hard to ensure those at high risk are protected by the vaccine. My advice for people who have the flu is to stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and rest. Call your surgery or NHS24 if you have any concerns.”