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Flu-like illnesses hit record low last year

Flu-like illnesses hit record low last year

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Flu-like illnesses hit record low last year


Flu-like illness hit a low last year, with influenza deaths dropping by around a quarter from the previous year, according to a new Government report.

The report states that it was “likely” covid mitigation like masks, physical distancing and staying at home contributed to the decline of such viruses.

Record-high numbers of influenza vaccinations (for those 65 years and over, under 65s with a clinical condition, two and three-year- olds and school-aged children) were also said to have contributed.

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Pictured: Flu-like illness stayed well under 50 average cases per week, with some weeks even seeing zero cases.

The report explained: "...Influenza-like illness activity was lower throughout the 2020-2021 flu season than in preceding seasons and contributed to fewer GP visits for flu illnesses and hospitalisations compared with previous flu seasons.

"Covid-19 mitigation measures such as wearing face masks, staying home, hand washing, school closures, reduced travel, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, and physical distancing, are likely to have contributed to the decline in 2020-2021 flu incidences."

It added: "The Influenza vaccination may also have contributed to reduced flu illness during the 2020–2021 season. The Government of Jersey works each year to increase the number of people who receive a flu vaccine and eliminate barriers to vaccination."

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Pictured: 78% of people aged 65 and over received an influenza vaccine last year.

In terms of confirmed hospital cases, the report noted that there was "there was no influenza activity observed in the community or secondary care" on the island, with cases staying well below 50 throughout the entire year - a far cry from the peak of more than 250 in 2018-2019.

Looking at the vaccination programme, a separate report notes that in the addition in record numbers for certain groups, the year also saw the extension of the flu vaccine programme to include 50 to 64-year olds with almost half (45%) taking up the offer.

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Pictured: Influenza deaths were down by around a quarter in 2020.

550 pregnant women were immunised in 2020-21, 40 more than the previous year.
 

The increase was also seen in every single school year group across the board.

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Pictured: The nasal flu vaccine is now offered to children in Jersey.

Breaking down the data around children, the report stated that: 

  • Around 8,980 compulsory school-aged children had the flu vaccine in the 2020-21 winter
  • 8,610 influenza vaccines were given in primary and secondary schools
  • 80 were given at GP surgeries
  • 260 were given in other healthcare settings
  • 20 were given to children who were home-schooled
  • The number of vaccines given to school-age children in 2020-21 was higher than the previous year (7,340)
  • A higher proportion of eligible children were vaccinated (73%) when compared to the previous year's programme (59%)

The reports' publication follows last Friday's announcement of a three-pronged winter vaccination strategy, including a plan to give a free flu vaccine to the island's most at-risk. 

Yesterday, the programme to offer nasal flu vaccines to children started.

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