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05.12.22 – Increase in Flu across Staffordshire, Baby Self Feeding Pillows, Cold Weather Expected

Written by on 4 December 2022

This winter could see a considerable increase in people being admitted to hospital with flu, with parents being urged to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

In November this year, 97 people with flu were admitted to Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford. In the same month last year it was seven.

There are particular concerns about more children needing protection as they are “super-spreaders”, picking up infections at school or nursery and spreading them at home, potentially to more vulnerable relatives.

Dr Paddy Hannigan who leads the vaccination programme in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent said: “This flu season has certainly hit harder than it has done in the recent past and we knew that it probably would.

“COVID lockdowns have kept the number of flu cases artificially low in the last two winters, and although it’s too early to draw conclusions, at this stage we are seeing more cases now than we did in the last couple of pre-COVID winters.

There has also been a fall in the number of pre-school age children being protected. Children of this age receive vaccination via a nasal spray.

Dr Hannigan said: “There is a significant reduction compared to last year, with immunisation rates down almost 14 per cent with two-year-olds and 10 per cent with three-year-olds.

“We really need to see this reversed especially with Christmas coming up – it is a time of year when we can often find four generations mixing in the same household and generally more mixing going on than we see at other times of year.

“We are also seeing more children being taken to Emergency Departments and being admitted to hospital with breathing conditions which is another worry.

“I really would urge anyone who is eligible to get free protection against flu this winter with many pharmacies offering flu vaccinations for adults without having to book an appointment with your GP.

The NHS website has more information about flu vaccination for adults and for children, and who is eligible for COVID vaccinations including their fourth booster.


People in Staffordshire are being urged not to buy or use baby self-feeding pillows, following an urgent safety alert issued by the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

Trading Standards officers at Staffordshire County Council want people to stop using them immediately and to dispose of them safely.

Baby self-feeding pillow products are designed to be attached to a bottle so that the baby may be positioned on its back to self-feed without the assistance of a caregiver holding the bottle and controlling the feed. This is inconsistent with NHS guidance in relation to safe bottle feeding.

When used as intended, even whilst under the supervision of a caregiver, it could lead to immediate, serious harm or death from choking or aspiration pneumonia.

The Office for Product Safety undertook an investigation into the product,  following initial contacts from Trading Standards and the Child Accident Prevention Trust concerning the safety of them.  The investigation found that the products did not comply with the safety requirements set down in the General Product Safety Regulations, 2005.

Trading Standards officers are now working with local businesses selling the items to make sure they are removed from sale.

People can get further advice from the Office for Product Safety and Standards website.


Staffordshire’s gritting crews are gearing up for a cold snap next week.

With ice and low temperatures forecasted, Staffordshire’s gritting crews will be monitoring the weather and getting ready to roll as necessary.

Nine weather stations across the county monitor conditions, and a team of winter decision makers make the call on whether to roll out the gritters.

Gritters are also fitted with snow ploughs, so if snow falls—especially on high ground—crews are ready to clear it. The county’s hill contractors are also called into action on higher ground to clear harder to reach places.