By Tony Earnshaw -Local Democracy Reporter

As doctors in Kirklees begin contacting people eligible for winter flu jabs, data has shown that many people are not taking advantage of the offer.

This year 50 to 64-year-olds have been made eligible for the seasonal influenza vaccination, which began roll-out on December 1.

But in a report to Kirklees Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel figures for the four-week period between September 30 and October 31 revealed a low uptake in some age cohorts.

Of those aged 65 and over, almost 70% took part in the flu immunisation programme.

But other cohorts that were registered with a GP were much lower.

Under 65 at risk, only-30.4% had the vaccine. Those who are pregnant-31.1%, Children aged two and not in clinical at risk group-29.5%. Children aged two and in a clinical at-risk group-29%, all two-year-olds-29.5%. Three-year-old children that are not in clinical at risk group-29.8%, three-year-olds that are in a clinical at risk group-32.3%, all three-year-olds–30%.

During the same period the uptake by schoolchildren was also low.

Reception ages 4 and 5-15.2%, year 2 ages 6 and 7-15.7%, year 3 ages 7 and 8–16.4%, year 4 ages 8 and 9–15.8%, year 5 ages 9 and 10–16.1%, year 6 ages 10 and 11–12.1%, year 7 ages 11 and 12–2.3%

Among patient-facing hospital staff, the numbers were higher. More than half (51.2%) of staff working for Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust – a total of 4,540 health workers – received the vaccine. Last year the number was 2,223.

And at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust 55.4% of staff – 3,210 workers – had the jab. That figure was down on last year, when it reached 4,929 or 60.3%.

In a report to the panel Head of Health Protection Jane O’Donnell said early flu vaccinations were being encouraged prior to people receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

She said: “This year with Covid-19 still circulating, flu vaccinations are even more important than ever and are being provided to those most at risk of serious illness if they contract flu or Covid-19.

“50-64s have been included as a flu cohort this year, as 50 is the age at which the risk of hospitalisations for Covid-19 sharply increase, which justifies increasing protection against influenza.”

In addition this year Year 7 schoolchildren are eligible for vaccination. All school age flu jabs will be complete by December 15.