Leeds Rhinos launch city’s flu fighter campaign

‘Be a flu fighter’ urge Leeds City Council and local NHS

Keith Senior, former Leeds Rhinos star and current ambassador for the Leeds Rugby Foundation, and Ronnie the Rhino got behind the city’s ‘be a flu fighter’ campaign launched by Leeds City Council and the local NHS at the Trinity Centre.

Flu Ronnie the Rhino_Keith Senior_Theresa Hale
Ronnie the Rhino, Keith Senior and Theresa Hale

Around 250,000 children and adults in Leeds are eligible for a free flu jab from the NHS as they belong to one of the ‘at risk’ groups of people who could develop serious health complications if they catch the flu. This list also includes children aged 2 to 4 who can be protected against the flu because they are most likely to pass the infection on rather than being at risk themselves.

In an effort to improve vaccination rates local people are being urged to become flu fighters by taking up the opportunity for a free flu jab. The ‘be a flu fighter’ message has been developed jointly by Leeds City Council and the NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Leeds (NHS Leeds North CCG, NHS Leeds South and East CCG and NHS Leeds West CCG). Every year around 4,700 people across England die from flu according to figures from the Department of Health

The campaign has been backed by NHS Employers who are responsible for encouraging frontline health and care staff to get the flu jab so that they can protect the health and wellbeing of patients and service users they care for.

Keith Senior, Ambassador for the Leeds Rugby Foundation (Leeds Rhinos’ official charity), said

“As key community partners we at the Leeds Rugby Foundation understand how important it is that we all work together to reduce the impact flu has on local people this winter. We hope that by getting involved in this campaign we can help some of the most vulnerable people across our communities so that we make Leeds a flu safe city.”

Gil Ramsden, Lead Practice Nurse for NHS Leeds West CCG, added:

NHS Leeds logo“We would like to remind anyone who has been invited to have a free flu jab that there is a real risk to their health if they don’t get themselves protected. For many people, who don’t belong to the ‘at risk’ groups the flu can be nasty but unlikely to cause severe life-threatening problems. However for people in ‘at risk’ it can have severe life changing consequences and even lead to death in some cases. If you have any questions about the flu jab please speak to your GP or practice nurse, if you are pregnant you can also speak to your midwife.”

Dr Ian Cameron, Director of Public Health for Leeds City Council, commented:

“Some of the people who belong to the ‘at risk’ groups, particularly those aged 18 -65 with long term health conditions, may see themselves as being perfectly healthy and feel that they don’t need to get vaccinated. However the reason why they have been asked to get a free flu jab is that we know that they could fall seriously ill or even die if they catch the flu due to the complications caused by their existing health condition.”

Carers of older people, disable people or those living with anyone who has a weakened immune system such as someone who has cancer can also get a free flu jab from their GP. In addition to this Leeds City Council and the local NHS want to ensure that frontline staff also protect themselves and those who they care for.

Gill Bellord, Director of Employment Relations and Reward at NHS Employers, added

“We are really pleased that Leeds wants to use our ‘flu fighter’ theme to encourage take up of the flu vaccination. We have delivered the flu fighter campaign in the NHS for four years now, and have seen a considerable increase in the number of frontline staff who choose to be vaccinated against flu. If we continue the momentum, support the enthusiasm and further increase the understanding of the vaccination, we can help ensure that the number of people committing to protect themselves and those they care for, keeps on growing.”

The ‘be a flu fighter’ campaign will see leaflets being distributed to over 100,000 households in Leeds, adverts on local radio, on street activities in Leeds city centre and in local communities and a survey for people to complete to help understand how many people are aware that they are eligible for a free flu jab.

Further information on the campaign, including a link to the survey giving people a chance to win exclusive prizes, can be found by visiting: www.leeds.gov.uk/flu.

Those recommended to have the flu jab:

  • everyone aged 65 and over;
  • everyone aged 18- 65 years of age who has a medical condition, including children and babies over six months of age, such as:
    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • lung disease such as bronchitis,
    • emphysema or severe asthma
    • kidney disease; or
    • a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS)or cerebral palsy;
  • all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy;
  • a healthy child aged 2, 3 or 4 years (given in the form of a nasal spray);
  • a child or young person aged 2-18 years with a long term health condition (given in the form of a nasal spray);
  • everyone living in a residential or nursing home;
  • everyone who cares for an older or disabled person;
  • household contacts of anyone who is immunocompromised; and
  • all frontline health and social care workers.