HEALTH experts are urging pensioners and at-risk groups on Wearside to arrange a flu jab as part of a new campaign.
The drive has been launched to highlight the dangers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Diabetes through the World Awareness Day for both illnesses.
The appeal comes as uptake figures show only 29.9 per cent of people in the North East with long-term conditions, which put them at increased risk of becoming seriously ill or even dying, have had the flu jab so far this year.
It compares to 36.1 per cent last year.
The region, which has an estimated population of 2.5million, has 286,500 under-65s who are classed as at risk, with a further 469,500 over-65s at risk.
Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East, said: “Many people with health conditions do not understand the risk flu poses to them and we are speaking out on World Awareness Day to highlight the importance of having the flu jab as soon as possible.
“Flu can knock even the healthiest people off their feet for a couple of weeks, but getting flu when you already have a health condition can lead to serious complications and it can even be a killer.”
The flu jab, which is available at GP surgeries, is an annual one-off vaccine which changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu.