HEALTH workers on Wearside are rolling up their sleeves to help fight flu.
Hospital trusts across the North East are joining a national campaign to get more NHS staff vaccinated against seasonal flu this winter.
It is hoped the drive will help protect their patients as well.
The campaign also aims to bring about a “cultural change” so that the free annual jab becomes routine for all front-line healthcare workers.
A recent survey showed only a third of the region’s staff had their seasonal jab last year, with the majority of them coming forward in December when the pressure on the NHS was at its peak.
This year, health bosses have set themselves a target of at least 60 per cent, with a maximum uptake by the end of November.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East, said: “NHS staff across are passionate about delivering the very best patient care and I am confident they will be eager to protect themselves from flu and prevent the virus from spreading to patients.
“Unfortunately, we know there are still so many universal myths about vaccinations that even NHS staff can be deterred from having them.
“The priority of this campaign is to bust the myths about the free and safe flu vaccine.”
This first national staff vaccination campaign is being run by the not-for-profit NHS Employers and Social Partnership Forum.
The groups aim to bring together NHS employers, trade unions and the Department of Health to discuss the issue and involve partners in workforce policy.
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, said: “We hope to achieve a significant increase on uptake of jabs.
“We wish all North East trusts every success in this important effort.”
Click here for more information or follow @nhsflufighter on Twitter .
Other people who need the free flu jab include:
* All pregnant women.
* Anyone over six months with a long-term health problem such as diabetes, chest problems or breathing difficulties, heart problems, kidney disease or liver disease, anyone who has suffered a stroke.
* Anyone over 65.
* Anyone who lives in a residential or nursing home.
* Anyone who cares for an older or disabled person.