Flu activity has decreased substantially over the last couple of weeks.
However, Hazelhill Family Practice advises at risk groups they should still get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so. This is because flu viruses are expected to remain circulating in the air for at least another three to four weeks.
Decreased influenza like illness activity
According to the national Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), influenza like illness (ILI) activity has decreased since the third week of January. ILI rates dropped from 65 per 100,000 population to 30 per 100,000 population the week ending January 19th.
The number of hospitalisations also fell from 609 during the second week of January to 351 during the third week. The highest hospitalisation rates continue to be among those who are either over the age of 65 or under the age of 5.
The HPSC figures show that vaccination, especially for those in the at-risk group, is vital.
Who are the at risk groups?
People in at risk groups include:
- Those who are over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with long-term chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.
Why the flu vaccination is still vital
Besides the fact that the viruses are expected to continue circulation in the air for the next few weeks, it is essential to get vaccinated if you belong to an at risk group.
- To date, there have been almost 3,100 hospitalisations as a result of flu.
- 103 of these individuals have been admitted to critical care units.
- 52 people, who mostly belong to the over-65 age demographic, have died of flu.
As the HPSC says, “Vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe diseases that can lead to hospitalisation and death. The vaccination takes two weeks to take effect once received”.
The flu vaccine is available free of charge for anyone in at risk groups aged 10 years and older from GPs and pharmacists. An administration charge, however, applies to those who don’t hold medical cards or GP visit cards.
How to deal with flu?
Those who are suffering with flu are advised to take the following steps to ease the symptoms:
- Make sure that you stay at home and take enough rest.
- Drink plenty of hot fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
- Feel free to take over the counter remedies like paracetamol.