Frontline NHS staff in South Tyneside are urging members of the public who are at risk from flu to take up their offer of a free vaccine as soon as possible.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts has now launched its annual staff vaccination programmes which will see over 10,000 health service staff being offered the free vaccine to help protect patients in their care.
Flu is highly infectious and spreads easily from person to person.
It can be particularly dangerous for patients who are already in hospital and other care settings and who are much more vulnerable to infection and its severe effects.
With winter on its way, the message from NHS medical and nursing leaders is to get protected as soon as possible.
Occupational health teams will be administering the vaccine to staff in hospital and in community health venues in South Tyneside in the coming weeks.
Last year, about 2,600 South Tyneside staff were vaccinated, with the trust aiming for a much higher uptake.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust medical director Dr Shaz Wahid: “Every year, we offer the flu vaccine to our staff as a way of reducing the risk of them contracting the virus and transmitting it to their patients or families at home. “It is extremely important in the interests of patient care that our frontline healthcare workers such as doctors, midwives and nurses, who are more likely to be exposed to the influenza virus through their caring role, have the vaccination.
“By protecting themselves and their vulnerable patients, they are also protecting their colleagues and their own families and they keep themselves healthy during the winter when NHS services, particularly urgent and emergency care, come under great pressure.”
The South Tyneside trust is working together with City Hospitals Sunderland as part of the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group to encourage all staff to have the immunisation to help reduce absence so that everyone can play their part in the delivery of services, ensuring that patients continue to receive the best possible care throughout the winter.
With the NHS braced for a pressurised flu season this winter, Public Health England has stressed the importance of being vaccinated against flu.
It has estimated that an average of 8,000 people die from flu in England each year, with that figure sometimes reaching 14,000.