Figures have shown that flu vaccine rates among the vulnerable have declined in recent years, according to the BBC.

As the season starts to change and the nights draw in, experts have turned their attention to the flu jab which is available for free for the over 65s and people, pregnant women or those with chronic health conditions.

Last month the government announced it planned to double the amount of people who receive the jab as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he does not want a flu outbreak “at the same time as dealing with coronavirus”.

However, newly published data has shown that 45% of people in England with serious health conditions under 65 took up the offer of a free vaccine, which is a drop from 50% in 2015. In Scotland it was 43%, Northern Ireland 52% and Wales 44%.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Tonia Thomas, project manager at the Vaccine Knowledge Trust, which is part of the University of Oxford, said: “People think the flu is not that bad, that is even for people who are in the risk groups.

“They are leading healthy lives in terms of day-to-day living. I have spoken to patients who say they forgot they are in a risk group. It is only when they contract an infection that they realise their body responds differently to other people’s.”

In extreme cases flu can lead to hospitalisation or even death. With the ongoing threat of a second wave of COVID-19 combined with a flu outbreak there are concerns the NHS could be completely overwhelmed this winter.

Nearly 8,000 people died from flu alone in England between September 2019 and February this year.

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