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Flu cases double to spark vaccination rush

 
Created on 19/12/2010 @ 16:49
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Public Health Wales is responding to a recent rise in seasonal flu rates by reminding people in at-risk groups of the importance of flu vaccination.
 
In the last week, cases of confirmed seasonal flu have increased and doctors are treating patients with antivirals where necessary.
 
The latest statistics collected by Public Health Wales show that in the last week, there were 22.52 GP consultations for flu-like symptoms for every 100,000 people living in Wales, compared with 11.71 per 100,000 in the previous week.
 
While this is within baseline levels for the time of year and flu levels have not reached epidemic proportions, people are reminded that flu can be a serious illness and vaccination is available.
 
Vaccination against seasonal flu is offered in Wales to people over the age of 65, people with health conditions that make them more likely to suffer complications from flu, frontline healthcare workers and pregnant women.
 
The latest uptake rates show that only 5.9 per cent of pregnant women have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year in Wales, while 56.1 per cent of people over 65 and 37.6 per cent of younger people in an at-risk group have taken up vaccination.
 
Dr Roland Salmon, Regional Epidemiologist for Public Health Wales, said: “We are aware that in the last week, the number of cases of flu in Wales has almost doubled, and we expect to see increased flu activity for the next six to eight weeks. There have been outbreaks of flu in schools across Wales and our laboratories have confirmed that both flu A and flu B strains are circulating.
 
“This year we are still seeing cases of H1N1 (swine flu) across Europe because while the pandemic is over, this virus is one of this year’s seasonal flu strains. The seasonal flu vaccination protects against H1N1.
 
“Anyone who is eligible for vaccination but has not yet received their jab should be aware that flu is a potentially serious illness and vaccination offers the best protection.
 
“We would urge anyone not yet vaccinated to speak to their GP as soon as possible.”
 
Public Health Wales has written to GPs and hospitals across Wales to remind them that oseltamivir (tamiflu) can now be prescribed for people in at-risk groups with flu-like symptoms.
In accordance with national guidance, antivirals become available for use in Wales when it is confirmed that flu A or B is circulating widely.
 
People with flu-like symptoms who do not have other health conditions can treat themselves at home with over-the-counter remedies and should limit contact with others to avoid the spread of the infection.
 
Anyone with concerns about their health should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.
 
More information on flu is available from the Public Health Wales website at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43745
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