GP consultations for flu is rising with the "particularly" high flu activity in school children indicating the start of "this year's flu season" the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has claimed.
Increases in flu cases have been seen in school children aged 5 to 14 years old, both from GP consultations and respiratory outbreaks in schools, as well as from calls to NHS Direct.
Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at the HPA, said the latest vaccine uptake figures for 'at risk' group' - the over 65s - are "encouraging" with more than 70% taking up the offer of the flu vaccine.
Earlier this week, the HPA recommended that antivirals should be used for the treatment and prevention of flu "in those who are at risk of serious complications".
"We are seeing an increase in flu activity mainly among school children indicating the start of this year's flu season," said Dr Pebody.
"We would encourage all those who are in 'at risk' groups to get vaccinated as they are more vulnerable to developing complications from flu. These include people with underlying conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, lung, liver or renal diseases and those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women.