Flu levels 'relatively high' but pressure on health centres easing

A flu season with some ''horrific'' medical complications is easing, Mornington Health Centre manager Jo Rowe says.

The South remains ''higher than expected'' and above the national average for flu like illness, the last weekly Environmental Science and Research report states.

Mrs Rowe said practice appointments were now booked out for one day ahead, rather than two to three days when flu like illness was peaking last month.

''We're still full on a daily basis, but we're not booked two days in advance.''

Flu patients had endured great suffering this year.

''It's been a particularly bad one. The stories that we're getting is it's not just straightforward flu - people have got these horrific chest conditions.''

Virologist Dr Lance Jennings said the incidence in the South remained high compared with other parts of the country, but was likely to follow the rest of the country and drop.

''I would anticipate in the next week or so you will see it dropping.''

Dr Jennings said the number of deaths caused by flu and its complications would be higher than usual.

''It certainly has been a more severe season than what we've seen recently, similar to 2012.

''Sadly, influenza is a serious disease in some people. It does result in people being admitted to hospital and clogging our health system.

''Sadly, some people die, but there is something we can do about it, which is to receive our annual seasonal influenza vaccine.

''It's not 100% perfect, but it's better than not having it.''

Last week, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman extended the flu vaccine programme to September 11.

''With influenza at relatively high levels in our communities, it's still worth getting vaccinated.

''Whilst the latest data shows a drop in influenza cases, we could still see cases increase again,'' Dr Coleman said.

The vaccine is free for people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with long term health conditions, and children under 5 years who have been in hospital with a respiratory illness.


Flu

• Causes about 400 deaths per year
• Dominant strain this year - Influenza B
• Flu vaccine programme extended until September 11
• More than 1.2 million flu jabs given so far 


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