Flu cases in the UK have increased earlier this winter than usual, perhaps by over a month.
Other unpleasant respiratory infections such as RSV are also on the rise.
Information from around the world can help us predict what might type of flu season might be heading our way.
- Australia has just come to the end of a bad flu season, with a dramatic increase in flu cases and hospitalisations relative to the mild season it experienced last year, in a pattern likely to be replicated in the UK.
- In the USA, by the end of November 2022 there had already been more than 6.2 million flu cases, with 53,000 hospitalisations, and 2,900 deaths from flu.
- Across Europe as a whole, the flu season has commenced earlier than in the 4 previous seasons, and the proportion of positive tests from sentinel locations has exceeded the technical threshold for consideration as an epidemic.
Meanwhile, UK vaccination rates have so far been low: by the end of November, when the flu vaccination campaign should be largely complete, fewer than 40% of “at risk” adults under 65 had been vaccinated, fewer than 25% of healthy adults aged 50 to 64, and fewer than 30% of pregnant women.
So this winter’s flu season is likely to be more severe, and not enough people will be protected.
What can you do to keep well this winter?
Get Vaccinated . Get Tested . Get Treatment
The good news is that circulating flu strains have so far been a good match with this year’s flu vaccines. It is not too late to be vaccinated. Vaccines are still available. At this point in the season, our preferred vaccine for adults is our premium recombinant vaccine, Supemtek, which is known to be highly immunogenic.
Flu cases in children are rising but the nasal spray vaccine has so far been in restricted supply. If your child has not yet been able to obtain the flu spray, injected flu vaccines are at least as effective and should be given without further delay.
At the Fleet Street Clinic, we can test quickly and accurately for a full panel of respiratory viruses in our own laboratory. It is helpful to know whether you are suffering from flu, covid, or another circulating virus such as RSV or metapneumovirus. We can tailor treatment to the result, help you know how long symptoms will last, and can help you prevent spreading it to others – especially important over the Christmas period when socialising in high at work and amongst family and friends.
Flu is treatable with anti-viral drugs, which reduce symptoms and speed recovery. Preventive treatment for close contacts and other members of your family is also something we can help with, available from our GPs. Knowing for certain that you have a viral infection can also help avoid unnecessary antibiotic treatment.
We can also provide onsite Workplace Flu Vaccinations for companies in the UK – for more information.
Have you thought about Corporate Flu Vaccinations?
The winter season can be problematic for businesses, as employees take time off due to sickness and annual leave. Illnesses such as flu are most likely to affect employees during the autumn and winter months.
If you are in charge of organising your company healthcare and wellbeing programmes, you may be unsure about whether to offer flu vaccines. The fact is, workplace flu vaccination can offer a significant return on investment in terms of reduced absenteeism and increased efficiency in the office, meaning there is one less thing to worry about.
We respond to some common questions about corporate flu programmes here:
WHAT TIME OF YEAR SHOULD I ORGANISE MY COMPANY’S corporate FLU VACCINATIONS?
Plan ahead and book the session as early as you feel able. This will ensure you’ll get the dates you want to suit your companies needs.
For best protection, the optimal timing for vaccination is between September and early December, before flu viruses begin to circulate. Each year, October and November prove a popular choice but we can vaccine up until February 2021.
WHY SHOULD I PROVIDE CORPORATE FLU VACCINATIONS FOR MY STAFF?
A flu outbreak in the workplace can cause an increase in absenteeism, which can result in a loss of productivity as well as increasing the workload of any staff that do not succumb to infection. For large and small organisations alike, this can have a massive impact on productivity and revenue. Furthermore, this year in particular, flu symptoms are extremely hard to distinguish between Covid-19. Getting the flu jab has become even more important than in previous years to eliminate potential confusion.
Workplace vaccinations are a great way of promoting health and wellbeing among your employees and demonstrating a caring ethos.
Benefits of the Flu Vaccine include:
- Flu vaccinations improve the wellbeing of your employees, promoting job satisfaction and a positive work atmosphere.
- Flu vaccinations reduce absenteeism.
- The greater the number of people who are vaccinated, the less potential there is for flu to spread through your workplace, among staff members families, and within the local community.
- Annual seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances of becoming ill with the flu.
HOW MANY PEOPLE TAKE UP THE FLU VACCINATION?
Workplace flu vaccination uptake can vary. Internal promotion and communication can make a big impact on likely numbers; motivation to avoid illness, and perception of current risk are also key factors. A good general guide, based on past years indicated an uptake of between 25%-45%. Due to more awareness of viral infections due to Covid-19, we anticipate this uptake to be higher this year and that given the option, most staff would probably choose to be vaccinated.
How Much Money Can You Save Your Company with a Flu Vaccine Programme?
Calculate the likely savings your company can make from a successful flu programme by visiting our corporate flu calculator here.
Fleet Street Clinic offers workplace flu vaccination programmes both on-site across the UK, and at our drop-in clinic in central London, via our flu vaccination programme, FluJabs.Org.
Flu jabs are a necessary part of Flu prevention… even after Covid-19
Flu vaccinations become available mid-September each year. They offer the best protection against the flu and are designed to be had prior to exposure to the flu virus. Like all vaccinations, immunity can take up to 2-weeks following vaccination to become effective so the earlier you get vaccinated the better.
Flu is still something we should be vaccinated again as it can be serious and lead to complications that can prove fatal. Vaccination offer protect for you, your family, your work colleagues and also those most vulnerable in your community.
The successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign has clearly demonstrated how vaccinations can protect the vulnerable and limit outbreaks. I hope everyone will learn from this and take full advantage of flu vaccination next time it is offered.
What is the next flu season expected to be like?
We don’t really know what to expect. There was very little circulating flu virus during the 2020/21 season, which means that there will be less immunity within the general population and more people will be susceptible. To make things worse, if there has been less flu around – globally – it becomes harder to predict exactly which flu strains will be coming our way, and so more difficult to pick the best strains to include in next winter’s vaccines. It is dangerous to assume flu has disappeared due to the pandemic and Covid restrictions that are currently in place.
Booking your flu jab:
Private vaccination is available from September until February the following year. Due to coronavirus, we operate a booking system so we can manage the flow of patients being vaccinated in a safe way.
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 9am-5pm
Address: Fleet Street Clinic, 29 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1AA