IT'S STILL not too late to get the flu jab - that's the message from NHS England South which is warning that patients who suffer with immunity-reducing illnesses are at greater risk of serious complications if they don’t have the flu vaccine.

Dr Liz Mearns, Medical Director based in NHS England’s Southampton office said: “ We can’t emphasise enough the importance of having the flu vaccination. People who already have reduced immunity through other illnesses are at much greater risk of developing serious complications."

These patients, she said, include those receiving treatment for cancer; patients with chronic liver disease; diabetes and respiratory illness. Aside from their decreased resistance to infection, flu can be more severe for them and can lead to additional complications.

Families or anyone who lives with someone with reduced immunity also has the flu vaccine to help limit the spreading the virus, she said.

The most frequent complication of influenza is bacterial pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is a less common complication but has a high fatality rate. Other complications include inflammation of the heart and worsening of existing respiratory diseases (e.g. bronchitis).

However, there is another important reason for getting the flu jab and that is because it helps lower the strain on the NHS. With the flu season in full swing, more than 20 people have been admitted to Poole Hospital over the New Year, with further admissions in Bournemouth.