David Anderson – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by David Anderson on 2016-01-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessments he has made of the reasons for the increase in excess winter mortality rates in England in the winter of 2014-15.

Jane Ellison

The increased excess deaths in 2014-15 coincided with the circulation of a strain of flu, A(H3N2), that particularly affects older people. Cold snaps and other respiratory infections may also have contributed to an increase in excess mortality. There was evidence also that the flu vaccine provided reduced protection due to some drift of the circulating A(H3N2) virus.

These observations were not unique to the United Kingdom, with 14 other European countries also reporting an increase in excess mortality. Throughout the last decade, there has generally been a good match between the strains of flu in the vaccine and those that subsequently circulate, highlighting the importance of flu vaccination for at risk groups, including older people and also the childhood flu vaccine programme, which when rolled out, aims to provide protection for both children, but also the general population.

Public Health England has no such data available for North East England.