A mix of flu types, including the strain dubbed Aussie flu which first appeared last winter in the UK and then in Australia, are currently in circulation in the region, and people who have not yet had their vaccinations are being urged to do so as soon as possible.
Dr Helen Carter, Deputy Director at Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands, said: "Our data shows that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospitals with the flu.
"The vaccine is the best defence we have against the spread of flu and it isn't too late for people to go to their GP or pharmacist and get vaccinated - especially those in risk groups including those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, young children or those with a long term medical condition."
Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Several million people get flu each winter, and while for most healthy people, recovering from flu can take roughly a week, for those who are more vulnerable it can be very dangerous and even life threatening.
"The message is clear; please get the flu vaccine now because it's better late than never.
"The vaccine is free if you are in one of the at-risk groups, and even if you are not, you can still arrange to get your vaccination for a small charge from many local pharmacies."
Symptoms of flu include the sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints. The best advice is to rest, keep warm and drink plenty of water. Health chiefs also recommend people take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower high temperatures and relieve aches if necessary.
People suffering from flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean surfaces to stop the spread of flu.
It is also important that people with symptoms of flu avoid unnecessary contact with others. Anyone concerned about their symptoms should instead stay at home and contact their GP or call NHS 111 to seek further advice.
Providing flu vaccinations is part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, a joint initiative from NHS England and Public Health England to help the public ward off common winter illnesses. Please visit Type=links;Linkid=7673;Title=Stay Well This Winter;Target=_blank; for more information.
- released: Thursday 11 January, 2018