Footballer Steven Taylor on the defence - against flu!

Magpies ace backs winter innoculation

Newcastle United ace Steven Taylor knows all about defending against attacks.

The Magpies centre-half joined forces with NEAS paramedic Colin Davison from Blucher in November to promote the annual NHS flu immunisation campaign.

Steven said: "Obviously it's important for footballers to stay fit and healthy at this time of year because we have so many games, and hopefully, a simple jab will see us through.

"I'd encourage as many people as possible - especially those who might be vulnerable to illness - to have it done."

Every year in the UK, flu kills hundreds of people who are elderly, very young or weakened by illness. NEAS takes patient safety very seriously and encourages all of its frontline staff to get vaccinated - helping prevent them from catching flu or passing the virus on to patients.

Paul Liversidge, NEAS Chief Operating Officer, said: "The NHS sees millions of patients every year whose age or poor health means flu could have a serious impact on their lives. This is why it is so important for those at risk to get their vaccinated."

People with underlying medical conditions and the elderly could be particularly vulnerable to the effects of a flu virus.

Flu

Paramedic Rachael Hewitt from Monkton Station decided to have the flu vaccine this year. Rachael explains: "I did not want to become ill with flu and I don't want to put my family, patients or friends at risk.  

"Working as a member of frontline staff puts me into direct contact with many patients and their families every day.  At hospitals, we are in contact with nursing staff and doctors who have been in contact with many more.  I

"I do not want to chance catching the flu virus, or becoming a carrier and potentially passing it on."  

You can catch flu - short for influenza - all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it is also known as 'seasonal flu'.

Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and sore throat.

You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a cough.

Flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.

The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of fluid coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. These droplets can travel a metre or so and infect anyone within range.

Flu can also spread if someone with the virus transfers it on their fingers. For example, if you have flu and touch your nose or eyes and then touch someone else, the virus can be transferred.

Similarly, if you have flu and touch common hard surfaces such as door handles with unwashed hands then other people can pick up the infection.

You can stop yourself catching flu in the first place or spreading it to others by being careful with your hygiene. 

Always wash your hands regularly with soap and water and:

  • regularly clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs
  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible

You can also help stop the spread of flu if you avoid all unnecessary contact with other people while you're infectious.

Anyone infected with flu should stay off work until they have recovered.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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