Imperial expert urges people to get flu vaccine ahead of winter resurgence

News Category: Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance
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By Maxine Myers September 26, 2022

An Imperial expert has urged the public to get vaccinated for flu as there is a high possibility of a severe flu season this winter.

Professor Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London and Honorary Physician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, suggests that this winter’s flu season combined with a possible new wave of COVID-19 infections may put pressure on the NHS, with more people being admitted to hospital.

He explains in the video interview above that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to stop the spread of the virus, cases of flu have been very low over the last two winters.  As a result, most people don’t have immunity against flu.

“Every winter there is this sort of expected crisis caused by influenza and we’re expecting this crisis to be even bigger than it would normally be, because no one has got that much background immunity this time,” he says.

There has been a big resurgence of flu in the southern hemisphere, with Australia experiencing its most severe flu season in five years – an indication of how serious flu could be in the UK this winter.

In the video, Professor Openshaw explains that flu has a significant impact on an individual’s health, especially those who are vulnerable such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.  It can also lead to bacterial pneumonia, worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes, as well as sinus and ear infections.

“Flu is a nasty illness. It doesn’t just affect the nose and lungs. It can cause very severe disease, particularly in people with no immunity,” he says.