COMEDIANS have been tickling people’s funny bones for years.

But now pharmacists are getting in on the joke, with gags aimed at making the flu jab more effective.

It comes after scientists at Nottingham University found evidence that being in a positive mood when you get the jab can boost the protective effect of the flu vaccine.

Comedian and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Christian Lee has written a list of ten rib-tickling jokes about flu.

The jokes and a memo on how to tell them is being circulated to pharmacists at 255 Asda stores.

Their pharmacists can tell the jokes ahead of pricking their patients.

Faisal Tuddy, Asda’s superintendent pharmacist, said: "Putting people’s mind at ease before a vaccination is all part of the service. If we can help put a smile on peoples face then that’s a great thing to do. Anything else it achieves beyond that is a bonus.”

Joanna Roj, pharmacist at Asda's West Swindon superstore, said: "We always try to have that relaxed atmosphere in the pharmacy. We do laugh a lot.."

Among the jokes being told by pharmacists this year is a classic: “Did you hear the story about the germ? Never mind, I don’t want it spread all over.”

Comedian Christian Lee, who worked with Asda on the gags bid, said: “Making people laugh was a great and light-hearted way to highlight a serious issue and I hope what I’ve shown the staff here helps to keep thousands of people well this winter.”

Fiona Castle, chief executive of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said that the Nottingham research showed a link between people's mood on the day of getting the jab and its effectiveness.

"While this doesn't necessarily mean the good mood causes the effect, a joke certainly isn't going to harm anyone," she said "The distraction can also prevent muscle tensing, hence avoiding pain.

"Laughter really may be the best medicine."

While the jokes may be funny, flu is no laughing matter.

NHS chiefs have said that this could be one of the worst winters on record for the virus.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “The signs from the Southern Hemisphere winter have been that flu has been much higher and it has been the variety that puts the most pressure on the old people’s services like care homes.”

The flu jab is offered free to children over two, pensioners, pregnant women, those living in long-stay care facilities or care homes and carers.

Asda’s flu jab costs £5 and is available to those not eligible for a free vaccination.