intensive care unit

600 people a year in the UK die from complications of flu

Nov 2019

Earlier in the year it was reported that the flu had left more than 2,000 Britons needing life-or-death treatment in and intensive care unit (ICU) last winter. In the report one expert stated that that particular strain of flu was so severe that it had left people who were previously fit and healthy critically ill, with some even dying.

Many patients last flu season had to be given extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (EMCO), the highest level of lifesaving support available for patients who cannot breathe. Some hospitals reported that more patients had needed ECMO to breathe last flu season than since the last UK flu pandemics. It is believed that those who became critically ill had not had their flu vaccination that flu season.

flu complications can make people critically ill

Dr Chris Harvey, director of Leicester Trust’s ECMO programme, said “We have treated a total of 25 critically ill patients with ECMO support with confirmed influenza A in Leicester. This represents the highest number of flu patients we have managed with ECMO since the pandemics of 2009-10 and 2010-11. All of our patients were previously fit and well and were rendered critically ill by the virus. None of these patients had been vaccinated against the flu this year.”

This just shows how important it is to get vaccinated against the flu. Even if the flu vaccine doesn’t 100% prevent you catching flu symptoms, it will prevent you developing life threatening symptoms which result in you having to be hospitalised, or worse. Even those who are young, fit and healthy can become critically ill if not vaccinated.

influenza vaccine

Life-threatening complications

It is complications of the flu that are dangerous and life threatening. The most common complications include: a bacterial chest infection which can develop into pneumonia, middle ear infections, meningitis, septic shock and encephalitis. These complications can affect anyone, but are particularly dangerous for those with long-term medical conditions, compromised immune systems, babies, the elderly and pregnant women. Even if you do not develop complications, you can easily pass the flu onto someone who could. By getting vaccinated you can help stop the spread of flu and prevent it being passed on to people who could develop life threatening complications.


The Oxford Vaccine Group report that it is estimated an average of 600 people a year die in the UK, from complications of the flu. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the flu kills between 250,000 ad 500,000 people around the world every year. In the UK the annual flu season runs from around October to March, with it peaking between December and February.

Vaccinate now

get your flu vaccination

The most common strain of flu virus that affects people in the UK can change every year, so it is important that you get the vaccination every year to ensure you are protected from that year’s strain. The flu vaccine is the best defence we have against the flu and experts say the best time to get vaccinated is between the start of October and November. This means people should be acting now and booking in for vaccinations as soon as possible.

How Kays Medical can help

Kays Medical can provide vaccinations against the flu. We can arrange for flu vaccinations to be provided to your workplace or organisation to prevent the spread of flu throughout large groups of people, preventing them developing life-threatening complications. Kays Medical’s occupation health practitioners will even come to your site, or multiple sites, to administer vaccines to your employees. To help keep your workforce safe from the dangers of flu, contact us today to order flu vaccinations.

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