Meet the flu squad – special team formed to help beat the bug in Sunderland

City Hospitals Sunderland launch this year's staff flu vaccination campaign, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality, Joy Akehurst giving Medical Director, Les Boobis the first of the vaccines.
City Hospitals Sunderland launch this year's staff flu vaccination campaign, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality, Joy Akehurst giving Medical Director, Les Boobis the first of the vaccines.
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A HEALTH squad has hit the streets of Sunderland as it aim to blitz the flu bug ahead of winter.

The Flu Safe Squad was out in force in the city yesterday to promote a free annual jab, which could save the lives of more than 800,000 people in the region.

The campaign has been launched to remind people at risk to get the jab, as well as raising awareness of the dangers of flu.

Dr Tricia Creswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East, said: “Flu is not just a cold, it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people.

“If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long-term health condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes then you should also get a free flue jab from your GP and get flu safe.

“The flu jab is safe, and it can’t give you flu. It is particularly important that children with serious underlying conditions get the flu jab, as they are at higher risk of complications with flu.”

The Flu Safe Squad will travel across the region this month, offering hot drinks, while answering questions about the vaccination.

The jab is now available at GP surgeries.

London 2012 Team GB Paralympic team captain, and three time Paralympic gold medalist, Stephen Miller said: “I always have my flu jab and know it is important that vulnerable people protect themselves from flu.”

The Ashington athlete added: “We’ve had a fantastic summer with the London 2012 Paralympics and Olympics, which has really inspired people to look after their health and I hope this will continue through protecting themselves with this free jab, which saves lives every year.”

In the winter of 2010/11 there were over 160 north east people who required intensive care treatment, including 10 pregnant women.

Those who require the free flu jab include people aged 65 years or over, all pregnant women, those with serious long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho