MEDICS are today stressing the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu this festive season.
Those in at-risk groups, including the over 65s, people with long-term conditions, pregnant women, care and nursing home residents and carers, can all help in the fight against the flu by getting the vaccine.
To send out the stark reminder as the winter weather leads to flu circulating across the city, GP practices are using a number of tactics, including bunting, T-shirts, badges, sashes and leaflets.
While flu remains harmless to the majority of people, it can have serious effects for people at risk and can lead to critical illness and potentially prove fatal.
The vaccine provides protection through the whole winter.
Midwife Katrina Dowell, of Hylton Medical Group at Pallion Health Centre, said: “We are asking those in at-risk groups, including pregnant ladies, to get vaccinated and protect themselves against flu and serious complications.
“For most people, seasonal flu is not life-threatening. However, it can be far more dangerous for those in at-risk groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and patients with heart problems, diabetes or lung, liver or renal diseases, or those who have weak immune systems who are at risk of developing complications.”
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, working on behalf of Sunderland Teaching PCT, added: “Flu is a preventable illness yet it continues to kill people every year.
“It is crucial that those at risk, including all risk groups and pregnant women, get the vaccine to protect themselves and prevent the virus from spreading.”
Anyone who has recently moved house or changed GP practice and are eligible for the free flu jab should check with their new practice to make sure they are on the mailing list.
This is vital for carers of older or disabled people as carers cannot be identified through medical records.