Global influenza levels have been low since 2020, but the UK government is predicting to see a resurgence in winter 2022 to 2023. Indeed, the UK could be facing its worse flu season in years. Southern hemisphere nations such as Australia have experienced rampant flu seasons, and experts warn the same may be in store for the UK.
In this post we’ll discuss the flu strains that may circulate in the UK in 2022 and explore ways you can help prevent and control infection.
Common Winter 2022 UK Flu Strains
The major flu strain making the rounds this year is H3N2. Other flu strains that may circulate in the UK this year include H1N1, B(Victoria) and B(Yamagata).
H3N2 Flu Strain
This is the same strain that was responsible for the bad 2017-2018 flu season in the UK, when 22,000 excess deaths in England and Wales were linked to the flu.
Fortunately, reports from Australia indicate that the current flu vaccination is a good match for the H3N2 strain. So it’s vital that any individual who is susceptible to serious illness from viruses receives their annual flu jab.
Flu Variants and Vaccines
Each of the four variants falls into the Influenza A and B categories, which are invariably responsible for the annual flu seasons across the world. Each strain brings broadly similar symptoms, including high temperatures, exhaustion, sore throats, headaches, coughs, and sneezes. Where each strain differs is in its severity and transmissibility.
This year’s flu vaccines have been developed to fight these four major strains. However, flu viruses can mutate over the course of the season, so the vaccines may not be wholly effective in reducing the risk of flu illness.
On top of that, in 2022 the UK may have to contend with a “twindemic”. Covid still hasn’t gone away, after all, and some experts are concerned that “vaccine fatigue” may have set in among the most vulnerable groups.
So anyone eligible for a vaccine should get one. Yet health professionals can take additional action to help prevent and control flu infections this year.
How to Help Prevent the Spread of Flu in 2022
If you work in a GP’s office or a similar healthcare setting, you’re likely to encounter many people with flu-like symptoms this year. You’re also likely to spend time among individuals who are especially vulnerable to viruses, including elderly people, children, and those with serious long-term health conditions.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent and control the spread of flu among your co-workers and your most vulnerable patients:
- Risk Assessment and Patient Placement – You should assess each patient’s infection risk as soon as they arrive. If possible, you should isolate any patients who demonstrate a high risk of cross-infection.
- Hand Hygiene – You should wash your hands before and after interacting with every patient. This should take you at least 20 seconds, and you should follow the advised procedure to ensure thorough hand hygiene.
- Respiratory and Cough Etiquette – Encourage all staff to catch their coughs and sneezes in tissues, and to dispose of these tissues immediately afterwards, before washing their hands. To make this easier, provide ample tissues and hand-washing facilities throughout your care setting.
- Personal Protective Equipment – Staff should wear the adequate PPE depending on the task at hand. Ideally, all PPE should be disposable, and located close to the point of use.
These are all examples of standard infection control precautions (SICPs). Read our full guide to infection prevention and control.
Air Purification for Effective Infection Control
Good air filtration can make a huge difference in preventing and controlling infection in healthcare settings. A recent University of Cambridge study found that an air filtration system in a Covid-19 ward successfully removed almost all traces of the airborne virus.
The BlueAir HealthProtect 7740i Air Purifier can deliver complete filtration every 12.5 minutes in rooms as large as 62m². Its filters can trap up to 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns, and up to 99% of viruses and bacteria – including all of the most common flu strains, and Covid.
Learn more about how we can help prevent infections and improve the air quality in your healthcare setting. Get in touch to talk to one of our air purification experts today.