The elderly, pregnant women and children with chronic illness in the UK are being urged to get vaccinated as the threat of the Australian ‘flu reaching our shores heightens.
The flu also known as H3N2 - has arrived in the UK after claiming hundreds of lives in Australia, with the virus confirmed in parts of the UK and Ireland.
So far in England, nine people have been taken to hospital as a result of the virus.
A Public Health England spokeswoman said: “The current ‘flu vaccine is still the best defence we have against the virus.
“We therefore encourage all those who are eligible to take up the offer of the vaccine.”
The warning comes following reports of several deaths in Ireland of people who contracted the H3N2 strain.
The H3N2 strain, which caused one of Australia’s worst ‘flu outbreaks last year, can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening conditions.
Symptoms are similar to normal ‘flu but are more severe. If people continue to feel really ill after a week it could indicate something more serious.
To limit the spread of the virus, PHE suggests washing hands frequently, sneezing into tissues and discarding them and regularly cleaning often-used surfaces such as keyboards, and phones.