WIRRAL health chiefs are urging people to ‘choose well’ and get immunised against the flu virus.

Doctor Sue Wells, medical director for Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group is urging those who are considered at risk of having a bad bout of flu to get the vaccination as soon as possible.

Her warning comes in response to figures released by the Royal College of General Practitioners last month which claims more than 6% fewer flu jabs have been given by GPs so far this year than were given last year.

Some family doctors claim that their surgery fridges are full of unused vaccines because of such a drop in numbers.

Dr Sue Wells said: “Flu can be dangerous if you fall into a susceptible group of people who find it harder to recover from illness, and it can bring on other health issues.

“We are asking people to have their vaccination as a priority. It provides valuable protection and plays a key role in keeping vulnerable people as healthy as possible through the winter.

“The drop in the number of vaccinations that we are seeing this year can only increase the risks for the elderly and others more susceptible to flu, as well as potentially increasing winter pressures on the NHS.”

This advice comes as the ‘Stay Well this Winter’ campaign continues into the winter months, led by Public Health England and NHS England and promoted at a local level by Wirral CCG.

The campaign is not about preventing those that need urgent care from going to hospital, but providing simple advice to protect those that are most vulnerable to falling ill with winter ailments, such as getting immunised with the flu jab.

The “at risk” groups are older people, pregnant women, people with learning disabilities and those with long-term conditions such as heart, liver and kidney disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, such as asthma, as well as carers, who might not be getting their flu jabs.

The RCGP figures have shown that surgeries in England are vaccinating at least 100 fewer patients per practice than this time last year. 

Patients who are eligible for the vaccination free on the NHS are targeted specifically by their GP surgery. Patients can also get the flu jab from local pharmacists.

Dr Wells added: “The reasons for a decline in flu jabs are unclear, but it is possible that perceptions of lower vaccine effectiveness last year may be affecting people’s decisions.

“Patients are better protected by having it and the flu vaccine is attributed to being one of the reasons that we no longer experience the major flu outbreaks that we used to have.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal there were an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2014-15.