Doctors are urging parents to bring their toddlers in for flu vaccines following news intensive care admissions for influenza rose 20 per cent in the last week.

Over the last week, flu intensive care admission rates in London increased by 20 per cent.

Since the start of the season September 30, 2019) 23 flu outbreaks have been reported in London mostly affecting schools.

Nationally, 14 people died from influenza in the last week, with 58 deaths since the start of the flu season.

Only 19 per cent of two and three year olds in London have had the flu vaccine compared to 25 per cent nationally.

Only 33 per cent of pregnant women have the vaccine. Uptake in people aged 65 and over is higher at 60 per cent but lower than national uptake for this age group at 68 per cent.

Professor Paul Plant, London regional director at Public Health England, said: “Flu is starting to have an impact in London, but it can be prevented by getting the vaccine which is still available at GP surgeries. Flu can be serious and even deadly for very young children, so parents should make sure their toddlers are vaccinated. Current evidence suggests the vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is circulating.

“To help stop the spread of flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.”

Dr Vin Diwakar, Regional Medical Director for NHS London, said: “Our message is simple; the flu season is here and it can be dangerous for children. A quick, painless nasal spray from a GP can help little ones fight off the flu and keep safe.

“Fewer 2-3 year olds have had the vaccine this year, with just 1 in 5 of London’s toddlers protected. The nasal spray is in stock at GP surgeries, and I strongly encourage parents to book the free vaccine today.”