People urged to get protected from flu

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DOCTORS are urging people to get a flu jab and not risk having Christmas ruined by illness.

Hospitals in the North-East were packed with people critically ill with serious cases of flu last Christmas and those most at risk are being urged to make a vaccination a priority.

Pregnant women, youngsters with long term health problems, pensioners, carers and frontline health and social care workers are most at risk and are urged to get vaccinated now to make sure they are protected ahead of the big day.

Health officials say only 30 per cent of pregnant women and 30 per cent of children with long term health problems have got the jab so far this year – despite it being widely available since October.

They do not want a repeat of last year where 61 people were ventilated in critical care and there were even cases where people died.

Dr Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North-East, said: “Flu is a preventable illness and we really don’t want to see anyone getting so seriously ill that they require critical care treatment this Christmas.

“We’re urging all those who are eligible, particularly pregnant women and younger people, to book an appointment in the next couple of weeks to make sure they are protected before flu starts spreading in the community.

“Full protection from the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to develop, so people need to come forward now.”

Anyone wanting a jab should contact their GP.