A TOTAL of 256 people were in hospital because of flu last winter in Bolton and most were under 65.

Around half of those who ended up in hospital were aged between 19 and 65, while 72 babies and toddlers under five years old suffered the same fate.

Public health boss Dawn Lythgoe revealed that many of those who were hospitalised were not from groups typically to be at risk.

She said: “We know that a lot of those people were otherwise well. They weren’t part of those vulnerable groups.”

The figures were revealed as authorities across the borough push for more people to get the flu jab.

This comes after it was reported the number of people who claimed their free jabs fell last year.

Less than half of two and three-year olds, pregnant woman and under 65s at risk of flu were immunised. However, almost three quarters of residents 65 and over got the jab – almost meeting the target.

Ahead of this winter, the programme manager told councillors on a health scrutiny committee about the dangers of flu.

She said: “It’s very much not a cold. There is a difference between a cold and flu. A cold tends to affect the nose and the throat. You can feel a bit rubbish.

“Flu very much doesn’t discriminate. Generally, you end up being in bed and unable to open the curtains or make yourself a cup of tea.”

“It doesn’t discriminate. Whether you are otherwise well, no matter what age you are, what you do as a living – anyone can get flu. But some people are at more risk of getting other illnesses as a result of flu.”

The flu vaccine is free for those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with a long-term health condition and 2 to 10 year olds.

Primary school children from Reception to Year 6 can receive the nasal spray through their school health programme while two and three-year olds can have the nasal spray vaccine at their GP practice.

Those eligible should contact their GP to make an appointment or ask a local pharmacist. Anyone not entitled to a free vaccine can still get protected via their local pharmacy for around £10.