A TOP doctor has voiced concern over the lack of residents in Knutsford, Holmes Chapel and the surrounding area receiving their seasonal flu jab.

While one practice in the area has ordered 200 extra flu vaccines to keep up with demand – another has administered around 250 less vaccines than it did last year.

This is despite that practice seeing its ‘at risk patients’ group increase by more than 300 people.

In this context, the term ‘at risk patients’ refers to the over 65s, pregnant women, young children and those with long-term conditions – as they are the section of the population that is most in need of the flu jab.

Flu can be more severe in these groups, particularly children and adults with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions, such as long-term heart or respiratory disease.

The Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group said the mixed local picture in part reflects the national trend, with the Royal College of GPs estimating that England’s 8,000 practices have immunised 100 fewer patients than at this point last year.

However, this is the first winter where people have been able to receive the flu jab at pharmacies, which could also have contributed to the seeming decline.

Dr Graham Duce, GP with Park Green Surgery, Macclesfield, and NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group prescribing lead, said: “Although we don’t wish to cause alarm, the mixed flu jab uptake in eastern Cheshire does concern me.

“While take-up is often high among the over 65s, there tends to be a huge variance among those with long-term conditions.

“This is particularly worrying as if these people contract flu, they will often develop a serious secondary condition – causing strain on loved ones, as well as NHS services.

“Getting the flu jab takes less than a minute, but it prevents what can be a really very nasty virus, so I would strongly advise residents of Eastern Cheshire to take advantage of a free opportunity to safeguard their health and stay well this winter.”

If you have been invited to receive a flu jab and have not yet taken up the opportunity, contact your surgery to determine the easiest way to receive your vaccine.