HEALTH chiefs in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have voiced concern over what they have described as a worryingly low number of people taking up the flu jab.
New figures have revealed that there is a serious decline in the number of people in high-risk groups having the vaccine this year compared to 2011.
Flu can spread easily from person to person — for many it is irritating but for some the virus can prove life-threatening.
Sara Hayes, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board director of public health, said: "This is a very serious matter and a cause of great concern.
"We are halfway through November and are very worried that so many of our patients still haven't had their flu jab.
"Please, if you are in one of the following high-risk groups go to your GP and get your free flu jab now.
"It is very, very, important that people who have existing health conditions realise that for them flu is extremely serious and can be life-threatening."
Bruce Ferguson, ABM medical director and lead doctor for the health board, said it was vital people had the jab.
"By not having the flu jab, many patients are risking their lives unnecessarily," he added.
"You can't get flu from the jab as the vaccination itself is not a live flu virus. If you do have flu after having the jab it is more than likely a coincidence and you already had the virus in your body before you had the jab.
"The jab itself is safe and most people suffer little more than a sore arm after having it.
"If you have any concerns, speak to your GP, then make a final decision, please don't just decide not to have your jab."
Both Dr Hayes and Dr Ferguson have had the flu jab.
People who are in high-risk groups who are advised to have the jab include those aged 65 and over, and people with long-term health conditions, including respiratory, heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes and neurological disease.
Pregnant women, carers and those living in residential care homes also should get the vaccine.