The PHA Influenza Weekly Surveillance Bulletin for the period 29 January – 4 February 2011 shows that new flu cases and GP consultation rates remain low. There were only 11 new laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu in Northern Ireland last week compared to 10 in the third week of January 2011.
Dr Maureen McCartney, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: “Numbers of swine flu cases remain low, which is a further indication that we are likely to have passed the peak of this winter's flu season. There were only 11 new cases of swine flu detections, meaning that swine flu is now only circulating at low levels. Although there were four deaths notified this week, three of these occurred in January. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to those who have been bereaved.”
Dr McCartney continued: “All the newly reported deaths had underlying health problems. The low levels of swine flu circulating in Northern Ireland are very much in keeping with the picture across the rest of the UK. However, it is still important that the public maintain high standards of respiratory and hand hygiene.”
Vaccination still remains the most effective way to protect those who are most at risk from flu and its complications. While many people in the at-risk groups have already taken up their offer of vaccine, some still have not. But it is not too late to get protected and you should see your GP about being vaccinated as soon as possible. Supplies of safe and effective vaccine against swine flu are available for people in at-risk groups.
For further information and advice on flu visit the fluaware pages at: www.publichealth.hscni.net
For information on issues contained in the flu bulletin contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
Notes to the editor
1. A copy of the PHA flu bulletin is available on the fluaware pages and on the main PHA website www.publichealth.hscni.net
2. Deaths reported in the PHA flu bulletin do not include that of a child resident in the Republic of Ireland.
3. Vaccination uptake figures period ending December 2010, the proportion of people in Northern Ireland aged 65 years and over who had received the 2010/11 seasonal influenza vaccine was 69.8%, while the uptake in those aged under 65 in an at risk group was 62.7%. This compares with 77% uptake in the over 65 years, and 81.8% in the under 65 at risk group, for the same period last year during the pandemic
4. Who should get the flu vaccine?
• Anyone aged 65 or over.
• Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
- a chronic chest condition such as asthma;
- a chronic heart condition;
- chronic liver disease;
- chronic kidney disease;
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy;
- a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy.
• Pregnant women regardless of their stage of pregnancy.
• Anyone living in a residential or nursing home.
• If you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person.
• Children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection.