GWENT recorded Wales' second highest rate of 'flu vaccination last year, but narrowly missed out on health experts' target rate.

Close to seven-in-10 (69.4 per cent) people aged over 65 received a 'flu jab, just below the 70 per cent target, which Aneurin Bevan Health Board chiefs hope can be met this year.

Wales-wide in 2011/12, 67.7 per cent of over-65s were vaccinated against 'flu, a two per cent improvement on the previous year.

There have also been improvements in 'flu vaccination among people under 65 in 'at risk' groups, with 52.6 per cent in Gwent receiving a jab.

'At risk' groups include people living in long term residential or nursing homes, people with a chronic heart or chest complaint including asthma, people with chronic kidney or liver disease, diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and a range of other conditions. Immunisation was also offered to all pregnant women.

The health board recorded the second highest 'flu vaccination rate of Wales' seven health board areas, behind Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board (North Wales).

The 'flu jab season is due to begin towards the end of this month (Sept), and another major annual vaccination programme - HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) for Year Eight girls, to protect against forms of cervical cancer - will also begin shortly.

Year Eight girls should each receive three doses of HPV during the school year under a programme now several years old.

During 2010/11, the latest year for each complete figures are available, 84.6 per cent of Year Eight girls in Gwent received the three vaccinations. This was slightly below the all-Wales average, and comfortably short of the top performing Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board (89.4 per cent).

Wales'wide, uptake in 2010/11 was 2.5 per cent higher than the previous year.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK's only charity dedicated to supporting women with cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, is launching a campaign on Monday, calling on girls entering Year Eight this month to take up all three doses of HPV vaccine.