HEALTH bosses in Sunderland are urging some of the city’s most vulnerable residents to “get the jab”.
By getting vaccinated against the flu this winter, hundreds of Wearside lives could be saved.
It comes as an extension to the national flu vaccination programme is rolled out, which will eventually include yearly vaccinations of all two to 16-year-olds.
Public Health England says there are on average about 1,000 “excess winter deaths” per year in the North East, many of which are preventable.
Wearsiders with long-term health problems such as asthma, heart failure and kidney disease are also vulnerable and are being encouraged to get vaccinated.
A nasal spray vaccine will be offered to healthy two and three-year-old children in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.
Coun John Kelly, the council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said: “For the majority of people, flu is unpleasant, but not life-threatening.
“But it can be very serious for older people and those at risk of developing complications because of a pre-existing health condition.
“This includes people with weakened immune systems as well as underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes and pregnant women. Vaccination is the best way to protect against flu this winter.
“I urge everyone entitled to a free vaccination to take up the offer – especially the parents of two and three-year-olds.”
A national advertising campaign was launched earlier this month by Public Health England to encourage take-up of the vaccine.
Nationally, almost 800 people were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year.
Each winter, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are admitted to hospital.
The vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains, so even if you had one last winter, you need another one this year to stay safe from flu.
Nonnie Crawford, Sunderland’s director of public health, added: “Severe winter flu and its complications can make people really ill and can kill.
“You are 11 times more likely to die from flu if you have an existing medical condition.
“I urge everyone who is eligible, to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and their families this winter.”
Those wishing to have a flu jab should contact their GP to arrange one as soon as possible.