No flu cases were detected in the last seven weeks thanks to ‘changes in our behaviour’, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
According to the latest PHE data, its respiratory datamart flu surveillance system detected no influenza positive samples between 28 December 2020 and 14 February 2021.
Just one positive flu case was detected out of 1,075 samples tested between 21 December and 29 December 2020.
The weekly flu reports also reveal that there were very few hospital or ICU/HDU admissions for flu within the same period – with just seven hospital admissions and one ICU/HDU admission between 21 December and 14 February.
PHE head of flu Dr Vanessa Saliba said both public health guidance and restrictions as well as high flu vaccination uptake have likely led to the low levels of flu circulating this season.
She said: ‘The decrease in flu cases this year is likely due to changes in our behaviour, such as social distancing, face coverings and handwashing, as well as the reduction in international travel.
‘This season’s immunisation programme is on track to be the most successful ever, with the highest levels of vaccine uptake recorded for those 65 years and over, two and three-year-olds and healthcare workers.’
According to the latest weekly flu report, provisional data shows flu vaccine uptake in Engand had reached 53.5% in under 65s in a clinical risk group, 44% in pregnant women, 81% in over 65s and 34% in those aged 50-64 by week four of its reporting – 25 to 31 January.
The provisional proportion of children in targeted groups who had received the vaccine by the same date were 55% of two-year-olds and 58% of three-year-olds, while monthly data shows an uptake of 75% among healthcare workers, PHE said.
Earlier this month, NHS England announced that more people could become eligible for a free flu vaccination next winter depending on the levels of Covid infection.
The 2020/21 flu vaccination programme was expanded due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Government setting a target of vaccinating 30 million patients.
Shielded patients and their households, and the over 50s, were among the new cohorts.