Swine flu is no longer classified as a pandemic but the H1N1 swine flu virus continues to circulate as part of seasonal flu. This news page is not being regularly updated at present as flu cases are within normal seasonal levels. You can find up-to-date advice on seasonal flu and the seasonal flu jab in our Health A-Z section.
It has recently been reported that the pandemic flu vaccine may be used in situations where the seasonal flu vaccine is unavailable. Read our Q&A article for further information on plans to use the H1N1 pandemic vaccine.
Behind the Headlines is monitoring the current flu situation and will report on any further high-profile news stories on seasonal flu, the swine flu virus or related medication.
What is the current swine flu situation?
In August 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic was over. H1N1 has not “gone away” however. As predicted by the WHO, the H1N1 virus has taken on the behaviour of a seasonal flu virus and is likely to continue to circulate for some years.
The WHO also anticipated that “localised outbreaks” with “significant levels of H1N1 transmission” might occur. With the onset of the winter flu season the UK is now seeing an increase in the numbers of people with H1N1 flu, alongside those having other strains of seasonal flu.
What should I do?
For most people, seasonal flu is unpleasant but not serious and they recover within a week. However, certain people are at greater risk of developing serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These may require hospital treatment. A large number of elderly people die from flu every winter.
Vaccination offers the best protection for those at high risk from flu. The H1N1 vaccine is now part of the seasonal flu jab, which also protects against the other circulating strains. Pregnant women are being offered the seasonal vaccine for the first time because, as a group, they were affected more during the pandemic and are at greater risk of serious complications. Contact your GP for further advice on getting the vaccine.