PEOPLE across Wyre and North Lancashire are playing Russian roulette with their lives every year by not protecting themselves against seasonal flu, warn regional health leaders.
In contrast, people routinely get vaccinated against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A before jetting off on exotic holidays to Thailand or Africa.
Shocking statistics released this week show that 84 per cent of people questioned in the North West say they get vaccinations against tropical diseases before travelling abroad.
But only half of under 65s who were advised to get the seasonal flu jab took it up last year.
This is despite the fact that seasonal flu can also be life-threatening.
Last year, 602 people died with flu in the UK.
Seventy per cent of deaths were in young and middle aged people aged 15-64 years.
These statistics come as the seasonal flu vaccine is made available for people in at risk groups, free of charge from GPs.
Mike Leaf, Acting Director of Public Health at NHS North Lancashire, said: “A five minute appointment to have the flu jab could save your life.
“Flu can be a serious illness – particularly for those in at risk groups.
“It can result in a spell in hospital, and sadly, flu can kill. The best way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated. There is no reason not to.
“It takes five to 10 days for the vaccine to take effect so I’d urge everyone in an at risk group to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.”
Those who can get the flu jab free of charge on the NHS include: Pregnant women; anyone with a long term condition including diabetes, asthma, liver disease, kidney disease or heart or chest problems; people undergoing medical treatment who may have a compromised immune system; people with a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy; and everyone aged 65 or over.
People can stop themselves catching flu in the first place or spreading it to others by being careful with their hygiene.
Always wash your hands regularly with soap and water, regularly clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs.
Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.