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People shunning influenza vaccine due to swine flu 'myths' it has been warned

Government experts are urging those eligible for the vaccine to have it otherwise they will remain vulnerable to flu this winter.

Uptake rates so far this season have shown that fewer people are having the jab than last year.

At the end of October, 48 per cent of over 65s had so far accepted the jab against 54 per cent at the same point last year. Whereas 26 per cent of under 65s in at risk groups had accepted it against 31 per cent last year.

Only one in ten frontline healthcare staff who have been offered the jab have had it, the figures show.

It is thought the lower uptake could be because the weather had been milder so people are not thinking about flu or due to ongoing misconceptions about the swine flu vaccine.

Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health said: "We don't know how serious flu will be this winter. But we do know that improving seasonal flu vaccine uptake will ensure that more vulnerable people are protected.

"This year's vaccine is the ordinary seasonal flu jab and protects against the dominant strains ā€“ this year it protects against three types of flu, including the type known as "swine flu".

"It is vital we don't underestimate the effects of this virus. It is not the same as getting a cold and it can seriously affect your health.

"My advice is to visit your local GP surgery and get the vaccination as soon as possible. This is the best form of protection for you and others."

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