Doctors' fears over flu jab uptake

Doctors' fears over flu jab uptake

Latest figures reveal more than half of those at risk under 65 across Wales have not yet had their jab. Only 47.7% of patients - just under 135,000 - in this group have been vaccinated so far.


One public health consultant at Cardiff and Vale Health Board said many at risk people were not aware they were entitled to a free jab. This group is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu such as bronchitis and pneumonia.


The health board said those most at risk include pregnant women and people who have a weakened immune system. People with long-term medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney or neurological disease are also at risk.


Dr Tom Porter, consultant in public health medicine for Cardiff and Vale health board, said: "Many people under 65 are eligible for a free flu jab but are not aware.


"Flu spreads easily, and can cause serious illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and meningitis which can require hospital treatment. "If you are eligible for the vaccine, talk to your GP, practice nurse or NHS Direct Wales."


He added that many community pharmacies in Cardiff and the Vale are offering vaccination for free for eligible patients.


According to Public Health Wales (PHW), in the period up to Christmas 65.5% of patients aged 65 years and older have been given a flu vaccine - nearly 350,000 people. Another 47.7% of patients in at-risk groups have been vaccinated.


In the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board area, the figure is 42.8%. The highest uptake among at-risk groups is 51.8% in the Aneurin Bevan health board area.


PHW say latest figures show "small numbers of sporadic detections" of flu in Wales and "it would not be surprising to see increases in influenza activity over the next few weeks".

BBC News, 2nd January, 2014

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