One in three children could catch swine flu, DoH warns

Almost one in three children could catch swine flu this winter, according to latest DoH planning guidance.

Sir Liam: concerned by the number of patients admitted to intensive care for the H1N1 virus

The guidance states that there will be a 12% clinical attack rate of swine flu this winter, with a higher rate for children of around 30%.

However, healthy children are currently not being recommended for vaccinaiton as vaccine supplies are being reserved for vulnerable patients.

The NHS can expect to face 35,000 hospitalised cases from swine flu, with 15% of hospitalised patients requiring critical care.

The guidance estimates that up to 1.5 million people could be ill with swine flu in a peak week, with a worst case scenario of 1,000 deaths during the winter.

Speaking at a briefing in central London today Sir Liam said that  the NHS would face sustained pressure from swine flu this winter and that cases of seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could appear in the New Year, further increasing the pressure on NHS staff.

Sir Liam said that he was concerned by the increasing number of patients who are being admitted to intensive care for the virus.

This week there were 53,000 confirmed cases of swine flu in England. A total of 506 patients were hospitalised with swine flu in England with 99 of them in intensive care.

‘This is the highest rate since the start of the pandemic. It appears the virus is having a different impact in the flu season then it did in the summer.’

Sir Liam added that the DoH is looking into vaccinating disabled children in the school setting, following the deaths of two disabled children in Northern Ireland from swine flu.

‘The health secretary Andy Burnham has asked us to urgently look at this,’ said Sir Liam.

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