THE message from the health authorities is don't panic about the flu epidemic which is sweeping Europe as the strain in Spain is apparently similar to previous years, although they have expressed concern as the number of people getting vaccinated against the flu this year is only five per cent more than last year. It appears that the strain which has been detected in Spain and the Balearics is similar to last winter and as a result health chiefs have called for calm and to only go to a hospital in severe cases. However, the fact that the strain is the same as in previous years, is one of the main reasons why millions of people across Europe have fallen victim to the flu this year. Beacuse many people had the flu last year, more people are in contact with the virus this year. Nevertheless, Spanish health authorities do not expect complications during the present flu season. Hospitals and clinics across the country are ready for a further increase in the number of patients over the next few weeks and the flu could drag on until well into next month. The flu epidemic is not expected to reach its peak until the end of this month. The advice for flu patients is the same as every year.