Health officials warn Wales could be heading into the worst flu season in five years
Public Health experts are warning of a significant flu season this winter for the first time since the pandemic.
There are concerns that the season may start earlier this year and affect more people.
Cases of flu are already being detected in Wales and scientists say the flu season could be as severe as the 2017/18 flu outbreak, where 16.5 thousand people in Wales were diagnosed with flu by their GP, and 2,500 people were hospitalised.
There was also a high level of seasonal excess deaths that year – the worst for around 20 years.
Since March 2020, the Covid-19 lockdowns and international travel restrictions have disrupted the number of respiratory viruses in circulation, but as things start to return to normal, viruses are returning in higher numbers.
This year, Australia experienced a flu season which started earlier than usual and saw the highest case levels in five years.
Health officials fear Wales could experience similar flu activity this winter.
With Covid-19 also in circulation, and added winter pressures on the NHS, Public Health Wales says it is more important than ever that those who are eligible for a free flu or Covid-19 vaccine get vaccinated
Dr Christopher Johnson, Consultant Epidemiologist and Interim Head of Public Health Wales’ Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme explains “Flu can be serious, particularly for those who are older or have a health condition and are more vulnerable to complications as a result of the flu.
“It is well known that having a flu vaccine every year is one of the most effective ways to protect against flu.
“Likewise the COVID-19 autumn booster vaccination extends the protection against serious illness.
“Any side effects from the vaccinations are normally mild and don’t last long. The chances of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 or flu are greatly reduced by vaccination, as are the risks of spreading these viruses.
“Vaccination really is the best way to protect ourselves and others this winter from serious illness.”
Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We are encouraging everyone to get both their jabs this winter, when flu and COVID will be at their peak, to protect themselves, those around them and the NHS during what will be a busy time for healthcare in Wales.”
To promote the vaccinations, Public Health Wales has launched a campaign encouraging those eligible to ‘power up’ their protection against serious illness this winter by getting the flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
The campaign launches on 27 September with digital and social content as well as stakeholder outreach and radio adverts.
The yearly flu vaccine is also recommended for all children from the age of two (age on 31 August 2022) up to and including school year 11.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.