A SLOW uptake in the number of people being vaccinated for the Flu in Wrexham and Flintshire this year is partly down to a delay in the drugs being sent out, one GP claims.

Despite the vaccination being available for free to anyone over the age of 65, figures released (correct as of October 15) reveal the uptake rate so far at less than one-third.

Of the more than 63,000 pensioners in both Wrexham and Flintshire eligible for a free flu jab, just under 22,000 have received the vaccination, with the early figures very much below the overall Public Health Wales’ target of 75 per cent.

The vaccination is also available for free to those aged six-months or older, who suffer from a chronic condition such as stroke, asthma, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease; however, figures for that particular group are even lower, with an uptake of just over five per cent, against the intended target of 50 per cent across Wales.

Dr Peter Saul, a GP at Beech Avenue Practice in Rhos, said although it was still early in the vaccination process, the figures did demonstrate a delay in the vaccine’s being sent out.

He said: “What the figures highlights are that there has been a bit of a delay in getting some of the vaccine out. For example we are only just getting children’s vaccine into my practice.

“What’s interesting is the wide variation between different areas of the same town, such as Wrexham (North and West Wrexham’s 23.6 per cent compared to Central Wrexham’s 45.8 per cent). This may be due to some practices being better than others and getting organised and populations in some areas being more switched on in terms of health than others.”

Flu is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by viruses which change every year. It spreads very easily from person to person and is much worse than a bad cold. Symptoms in a healthy person can be severe, including fever, chills, headaches, aching muscles, a cough and sore throat.

The vaccine is considered the best protection we have against an unpredictable Flu virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.

Teresa Owen, director of public health for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, is urging all those who are eligible to have the flu jab.

She said: “Flu can cause serious complications and sadly even lead to death.

“The flu vaccine can significantly reduce the chances of people getting flu so it is very important that those who are eligible for the vaccine by their GP, local community pharmacist or employer take up the offer to ensure they are protected.

“I would encourage anyone who is eligible for the flu jab to make sure they get vaccinated as soon as possible.”