More adults eligible for the free flu jab have been vaccinated in Swansea Bay than any other part of Wales so far this autumn.
The vast majority have been seen in the 49 GP practices across the health board area, although community pharmacies also offer the flu vaccination to adults.
All adults and two and three year olds who are eligible for the free flu vaccination will be sent an appointment by their practice.
Despite unprecedented demand for routine services, GPs have laid on clinics outside of normal hours, including weekends, to make sure patients are protected.
“This is all the more remarkable given that they’ve had to vaccinate more people against flu this year in line with national guidance,” said Anjula Mehta, Group Medical Director for Primary Care, Community Services and Therapies Group at Swansea Bay University Health Board.
“It’s been an incredibly tough time for GP surgeries, so it’s testament to staff’s professionalism and dedication that they’ve been able to deliver such a successful programme, which isn’t over yet.
“We must also thank the public for taking up the offer of the flu vaccination as we head into a very challenging winter.
“Thank you for helping us to help you and keeping our population safe.”
The first set of flu vaccination figures for Wales shows that within the Swansea Bay health board area almost 60% (58.7%) of people aged 65 and over have been vaccinated so far. This is the highest number in Wales.
More than a quarter (26%) of those patients aged six months to 64 deemed to be at clinical risk have been vaccinated against flu. Again, the highest level in Wales.
GP Dr Iestyn Davies said having a flu vaccination is just as important as being vaccinated against Covid and it does not matter which vaccine patients have first.
“We are always more than happy to support any initiative which safeguards our community and the Covid pandemic has shown just how important vaccinations are to the health and wellbeing of all those who we serve,” said Dr Davies, GP Partner in Cwmtawe Medical Group and Cwmtawe Cluster Lead.
“If you are vaccinated against Covid and the flu, the risk of becoming seriously ill and requiring hospitalisation is greatly reduced.
“Our staff and volunteers have really stepped up to the plate and helped us roll out vaccination clinics in order to meet demand and I would like to thank each and every one of them for the commitment and dedication to serving others.”
Some GP practices in Swansea have used volunteers in meet and greet roles to make sure clinics run as smoothly as possible.
“All our staff and volunteers have really enjoyed the opportunity to help the GP practices to support patients to keep people safe during the winter months,” said Amy Meredith-Davies, Swansea Council for Voluntary Service Health and Well-being Partnerships Manager.
While some people will only experience mild flu symptoms, the virus can cause serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which may lead to hospital admission.
Very young children and older adults, people with serious underlying health conditions and pregnant women are at greater risk of suffering from complications if they catch flu.
Research has shown that those infected with both flu and Covid are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.