Hospitalizations for influenza exceed those for covid-19 for the first time since the pandemic began | UK News

Hospital admissions for flu in England have overtaken admissions for COVID-19 for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures from the UK Health Security Agency show that the rate of flu admissions was 6.8 per 100,000 people in the week to December 11, compared with 6.6 per 100,000 for COVID-19.

This also means that flu admissions are going at a higher pace than any week in the past four winters – which will worry healthcare workers, who are already under pressure.

Dr Conall Watson, UKHSA consultant epidemiologist, said: “Influenza is now circulating widely and we have seen a sharp increase in hospital admissions for flu this week, particularly among the under-fives and over-85s.

“Admissions are now at their highest point since the 2017/18 season and we expect case numbers to continue to rise as we move further into winter.

“The flu vaccine offers the best protection against serious illness, and it’s not too late for everyone who’s eligible to get it.

“The uptake is particularly low in the two and three-year-olds, so if your child is eligible, please take up the offer.”

Hospitalization rates for influenza and covid-19 are both increasing, but the rate of influenza hospitalizations has increased more sharply – almost doubling from 3.9 per 100,000.

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Admissions are highest among those aged 85 and over (23.1 per 100,000 people – up week-to-week from 10.7).

There has also been an increase in the rate among children aged four and under – from 8.4 to 20.7.

All children aged two and three are eligible for a flu nasal spray vaccine at the GP practice, but only 37.4% of two-year-olds and 39.5% of three-year-olds have taken advantage of the offer.

Around 33 million people in England can get a free flu jab this year, including those aged 50 and over, primary school-aged children and some secondary school-aged children.

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Other eligible groups include pregnant women, people in care homes, frontline health and social care workers, carers, those aged six to 49 with a specified health condition and household contacts of people with weakened immune systems.

On Thursday, NHS figures were published showing that an average of 1,162 flu patients were in England’s hospital beds each day last week – up 63% from 712 the previous week.

Approximately 87 flu patients were in emergency beds – up 45% week on week.

In the corresponding period last winter, only 25 patients were in hospital with influenza per day, and only one was in the critical care unit.

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