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Flu costs the UK '£30bn in sick days every year'

Photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

The flu costs the UK £30bn in sick days every year, new research suggests.

A new report published by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) on Friday claims the flu cost “better off” countries £30bn in lost working days in 2018.

Analysis by ILC, the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, suggests that in better off countries – those with high socio-demographic development – over 90 million people aged 50 and over get the flu each year.

READ MORE: Who should get the flu vaccine?

Among those aged 50 to 64, the flu cost around 159 million working days in 2018, the economic impact of which is equivalent to $39bn (£30bn), the ILC report said.

However, despite the economic and social benefits from preventing flu, and the strong evidence of the efficacy of vaccinations, flu vaccination rates among socio-demographic aged 65 and over have continued to fall across the OECD, from 49% in 2005 to 43% in 2015.

“If we fail to intervene and to prevent ill health across the life course, we will pay the price,” warned Baroness Sally Greengross, ILC chief executive.

READ MORE: Vaccinate your children against flu or prepare for a “Christmas to forget”

“Our estimates suggest that the flu costs better off countries more than £30 billion in sick days every year.

“Governments have repeatedly stated their commitment to prevention across the life course – from support for the World Health Organisation's’s Decade of Healthy Ageing to G20 statements affirming the importance of prevention.”

The World Health Organisation announced earlier this year that 2020 to 2030 will be its “Decade of Healthy Ageing”, where governments, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector will come together “for ten years of concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live”.

READ MORE: All primary school children to be offered free flu vaccine for the first time

“But improving vaccination uptake rates requires governments and policy makers to follow through with action, not rhetoric,” Greengross added.

“The economic and social costs of failing to act are substantial. Inaction is not an option.”