Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against the flu after a spike in severe cases in under-fives.
The number of flu hospitalizations in young children was nearly 20 times higher than last year, the data showed.
This week, 230 children under the age of five were hospitalized, compared with 12 at the same time last year.
It is estimated that hundreds more children under the age of five have been hospitalized with the flu in the past six weeks.
Pregnant women are also advised to vaccinate themselves.
The NHS is writing to more than 800,000 parents to encourage them to take their children to GP clinics for vaccinations before Christmas. Nasal sprays are given to children under five years of age unless medically inappropriate.
Vaccination rates among 2- and 3-year-olds are lower than last year’s numbers, with fewer than 35 percent of children so far receiving a flu shot, down 9 percent from last year.
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Flu hospitalizations jump 40% in one week
Nearly 18 million injections have been given
NHS National Director of Vaccination and Screening, Steve Russell, said: “We have administered almost 18 million doses and our flu vaccination program continues to make great strides in protecting the public, but it is vital that we ensure no Any group left behind.
“Young children, whose health is of course affected by the disease, may also spread the flu to other vulnerable family members, so we encourage parents to consider getting a flu shot before Christmas at thousands of available locations.”
Who can get free vaccines?
Children born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2020 can get the free NHS flu vaccine along with all pregnant women.
Pregnant women are also less likely to be vaccinated, with 29.6 percent vaccinated this year compared to 34.4 percent last year.
Respiratory diseases are more common in winter
Professor Sir Stephen Boyce, NHS National Medical Director, said: “It is very encouraging to see that flu vaccination rates are already high, but as we move through winter we are spending more and more time indoors. Respiratory diseases are becoming more common, so we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and others.”
“Getting the flu while pregnant can cause complications and there is evidence that it can cause your baby to be born prematurely. Younger children can also be at risk, especially if they have long-term health conditions, and we’ve seen a rise in hospital admissions recently. Add weeks.
“So our message to pregnant women and parents of young children alike is that it’s not too late to come forward and seek this vital protection.”
As flu hospitalizations rise up 40% in the past week.
Official figures showed an average of 482 flu patients were hospitalized each day last week, compared with 344 the week before.