The flu season starts

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​Up to 50 million people a year are estimated to have symptomatic influenza in EU/EEA countries and between 15 000 – 70 000 are estimated to die from influenza associated causes.

​Winter is coming, and so is flu. It’s a cliché but like all clichés it is true and should not be overlooked or underestimated. Up to 50 million people a year are estimated to have symptomatic influenza in EU/EEA countries and between 15 000 – 70 000 are estimated to die from influenza associated causes.

ECDC monitors and reports on influenza transmission and virus circulation in Europe on a weekly basis throughout the flu season, in collaboration with WHO Regional Office for Europe,  in the report Flu News Europe. Weekly monitoring for the European season started last week (week 40) and runs until week 20/2017. So far, only 108 influenza cases have been were reported in Europe, with both A and B viruses are circulating.

In the eight EU countries reporting hospital data for the 2015/16 season, there were more than 8 500 hospitalised cases of influenza, almost two-thirds of those patients in intensive care units. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and Victoria lineage type B viruses dominated the season.

ECDC also monitors influenza vaccination for specific risk groups and healthcare workers as well as the use of antivirals.  In 2014–15 season, vaccination coverage rates were reported in 25 Member States for older populations and ranged from 1.0% to 76.3%. The coverage among healthcare workers in 13 Member States ranged from 5% to 54.9% and for those with chronic medical conditions ranged from 21% to 71.8% in seven Member States. The coverage for pregnant women was known in five Member States (0.3% to 56.1%, median 23.6%).

In addition, the European Reference Laboratory Network for Human Influenza (ERLI-Net) produces monthly influenza virus characterisation reports which give details of the circulating viruses. 

It is often asked "Why do I need the flu vaccine every year", so to answer this question ECDC has produced an infographic that explains that there are many different influenza viruses, the circulation changes each year and the vaccine is updated in order to keep up with them.

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