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Deputy minister urges people to get their flu jab at the local GP surgery

People aged 65 and over, and those who are younger with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, are being urged to get their annual flu injection at their local GP surgery to protect their health this winter.

Despite an increase in the uptake of the flu jab in recent years, there was a fall last year (2007/08) to an average of 64% in the over-65 age group from 68% in 2005/6.

In the at-risk groups under 65, uptake varied from 63% in those with diabetes to 27% among people with neurological conditions. Overall, more people in this age group are getting their injection - 42% in 2007/08 compared with almost 28% in 2005/06. The national target is 70% for all age groups.

The annual seasonal flu vaccination programme is part of the Welsh Assembly Government's "Keep Well This Winter" campaign, which provides advice and support to people aged 65 and over to help them stay fit and healthy during the winter months.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, who has turned 66 this year, stressed the importance of getting the flu vaccination.  She said: "Flu vaccination is the simplest and most effective way of protecting the health of older people and those in at risk groups."

Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, added: "Flu can make you very ill indeed and can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia. Fortunately, the risk from flu is reduced by routine vaccination. Everyone aged 65 and over should contact their local GP surgery to arrange their flu jab."

Health Challenge Wales