SIX out of every 10 frontline NHS staff in Gwent received a flu jab during the 2018/19 season, a big increase on previous years.

It means Aneurin Bevan University Health Board met the 60 per cent target for vaccination of healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients for the first time. The actual figure was 60.5 per cent.

There has been a focus UK-wide on upping the numbers of frontline NHS staff who receive a flu jab each year, to try to protect patients, and to minimise the spread of the virus to key workers.

In 2016/17, just 49.3 per cent of staff with direct patient contact in Gwent were vaccinated against flu. The following year the figure was 52.3 per cent, so the subsequent increase is very encouraging.

More than two thirds of people aged 65 or over in Gwent got themselves vaccinated against flu in 2018/19. The 69.6 per cent uptake was similar to that for the previous year (69.8 per cent), marginally short of the health board's own target (70 per cent). The all-Wales target for this age group is 75 per cent.

Uptake among people aged 16-64 who are considered to be more at risk of complications from flu - for instance, people with asthma, heart and respiratory conditions, chronic kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and pregnant women - fell during 2018/19 in Gwent, based on figures to the end of March.

The uptake rate by March 31 2018 was 50.8 per cent, but it had fallen this year to 46.8 per cent, considerably below the all_Wales target of 75 per cent, and some way short of the health board's interim target of 55 per cent.

The uptake figures for all three of the above groups indicate that the vast majority of vaccinations had been carried out by the end of December last year.