Latest intensive care flu rates due

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New figures on the number of people in intensive care with flu will be released later

New figures on the number of people in intensive care with flu will be released later.

Department of Health statistics from earlier this week showed 302 people were receiving intensive treatment for flu, and there is expected to be more information on this group of patients.

The new figures will follow Thursday’s announcement that 27 people have died from flu, including nine children. Of those who died, 24 had swine flu and three were suffering from another strain, flu type B.

The data, from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), related to the number of confirmed flu deaths across the UK since October. Almost half of those who died were in an “at-risk” group, such as those suffering from diabetes, heart disease or asthma.

The HPA would not confirm if any of the deaths were among pregnant women because of worries over identification.

Just one of the people who died (and whose vaccination status was known) had received this year’s flu vaccine.

A spokeswoman for the HPA said the flu jab was only 70% to 80% effective, meaning somebody could still potentially die from flu if they were vaccinated but had an underlying serious illness: “It is not a vaccine failure; it means the person’s illness is so serious that they are very weak.”

Figures out on Wednesday showed rates of flu infection have more than doubled in the last week. Cases of flu have risen to 87.1 per 100,000 people, from 32.8 in the previous week, according to England and Wales data from the Royal College of GPs.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, interim chief medical officer for England, said rates of flu were within the expected range for the time of year.

Overall, the numbers in at-risk groups getting vaccinated “continues to remain low”, the HPA said. Some 43% of at-risk groups under the age of 65 in England have had the jab, compared with 68.5% of over-65s.

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