AN MP who is at increased risk from flu has urged others to follow his lead and get vaccinated.
Hexham Member Guy Opperman, whose constituency includes Ponteland, lost his spleen after a horse riding accident in 2006, meaning his body is less able to fight off serious infections.
Now he has rolled up his sleeves to get the free flu jab, and he has encouraged other vulnerable people to do likewise.
“If you haven’t done so already, now really is the time to get your flu jab,” he said.
“People who are at risk from flu need to protect themselves and their families with a free flu jab.
“I got my jab several weeks ago and I want to remind everyone at increased risk that they really need to make sure they protect themselves and have the vaccine. It is very important to protect yourself if you are at risk as flu can kill.”
Health officials have warned that for some people flu can be a serious illness and lead to hospital stays, or even put their lives at risk.
Older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women can develop complications, such as pneumonia, which in some cases can be fatal.
The free flu vaccination protects against the different strains of the virus.
It is available at GP surgeries for ‘at risk’ groups, including people aged 65 and older, pregnant women, people living in a residential or nursing home, and people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, COPD, bronchitis, liver disease, and neurological disease.
It is also offered to those with weak immune systems due to disease or treatment, main carers of elderly or disabled people and healthcare and social care professionals directly involved in patient care.
This year, for the first time, children aged two and three are also being offered protection.
More than half of the 9,000 workers at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have had the vaccination to protect themselves and patients.
Morpeth GP and Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Alistair Blair said: “We know that flu can be a very serious illness for some people, but we also know that it can be very easily prevented with a simple vaccination.
“It is fantastic that so many frontline NHS staff working in hospitals and in the community in the north of our region have now had their jab and we urge other at risk members of the public to do the same.”
Symptoms of flu are similar to the common cold, but tend to be more severe and last longer. They include a sudden high temperature, headache, aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat.
For more information about the virus visit www.nhs.uk/flu