UK fatalities from swine flu increase since last pandemic

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The Independent Online

More people in the UK died from swine flu last winter than during the previous year's pandemic, according to new figures.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said 602 people in the UK were reported to the agency as having died with a confirmed flu infection during the 2010/11 season.

Where information was available on the strain of the infection, more than 90 per cent of these deaths – 535 out of 582 – were influenza A H1N1 swine flu, the agency said in its annual flu report. Influenza B was associated with 40 deaths.

The figures for this winter compare with 474 deaths reported between June 2009 and April last year as being associated with the H1N1 swine flu.

The agency said young and middle-aged adults bore the brunt of influenza this winter, with more than 70 per cent of fatal cases in this age group. Among children, there were 25 reported deaths in those aged five to 14, 16 in children aged between one and four and nine in children less than a year old.

In England, just 50 per cent of adults under 65 who were in an "at risk" group and eligible for flu vaccination last season received it, down slightly from 2009/10.

Professor John Watson, of the HPA, said: "We are very concerned that only half of adults eligible for a jab last winter took up the offer."

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