Doctors are urging their most vulnerable patients to accept a free flu jab this winter - after more than half left themselves at risk by rejecting one 12 months ago.

Harrow PCT is calling on adults and children who suffer from asthma, heart disease and diabetes, along with everyone aged 65 or over, to sign up for the influenza immunisation programme.

It revealed that in 2007, across the country, only 45 per cent of those who fell into the under 65 at-risk groups received the complimentary vaccine shot, leaving over half needelessly unprotected.

Local GP Dr Muhammed Ali said: "Common colds are frequently confused with flu, but flu can be potentially life-threatening, and will generally require weeks of recovery time.

"Those at greater risk of developing serious complications from flu should get themselves down to their local surgery as soon as possible to protect themselves from the virus in the months to come."

Those who took advantage of the complimentary shot last year will need to receive another jab this year as the virus mutates and the vaccine must match the latest version.

Harrow PCT recommends those who qualify for a free shot to talk to your local GP, nurse or pharmacist to find out more or visit .