Flu and Covid-19 hospital admission rates in England are lower than at this point last year, figures show, as health officials urged the public to come forward and get vaccinated against both diseases.
Data published by the UK Health Security and Agency (UKHSA) showed that flu admissions stood at 0.4 per 100,000 last week, a rise of 0.2 on the week before.
It remains lower than the figure of 1.4 per 100,000 reported at the same time last year. Admissions would eventually peak at 18.1 in the week before Christmas, representing the worst flu season in years.
Children aged between 0 and 4 years had the highest rate of hospital admissions last week, at 12.8 per 100,000.
Modelling carried out by the UKHSA revealed that the flu vaccine programme prevented about 25,000 hospital admissions last winter, with a little under 50,000 recorded for the season.
The UKHSA recently urged vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, young children and people with chronic conditions to come forward for their jabs.
Emergency departments reported their busiest season on record last winter amid a surge in flu and Strep A. Both outbreaks were made worse due to lower population immunity caused by successive Covid-19 lockdowns.
The current rate of Covid-19 admissions is 3.4 per 100,000, down week-on-week from 4.0. This is below the figure of 5.4 per 100,000 recorded at this point in 2022.
Hospital admission rates are highest in the North West of England, at 4.16 per 100,000 people.
Intensive care admission rates remained “low and stable” at 0.03 per 100,000 people, the UKHSA said.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at UKHSA, said: “Our weekly surveillance shows flu levels remain stable, but in the coming weeks as we approach winter we expect this to change and will continue to monitor these rates closely. This week once again we see a decrease in COVID-19 infection rates.
“We remind people that if you show signs of respiratory symptoms, you should avoid mixing with others where possible to stop the spread of viruses like flu and COVID-19.
“Getting vaccinated before we reach peak flu season offers the best protection. We are beginning to see hospitalisations for flu among children under 5, and some children can become severely ill from flu. Most children aged 2 and 3 can get a nasal spray flu vaccine.”