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Middlesbrough pupils turn TV news presenters for region’s flu vaccine campaign

Youngsters at a Middlesbrough school have played a key role in supporting the region’s NHS campaign to ensure people do their bit this winter and get the flu vaccine.

Health and care chiefs in the North East and North Cumbria are really keen to share this vital message, amid concerns this year could be one of the worst for flu infections following immunity dropping off due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Therefore, they are incredibly grateful for the help provided by the drama department at Macmillan Academy, where four pupils have taken on the role of news presenters for the launch of Do Your Bit TV.

The videos, which have already launched, feature Matthew, Joshua, Selina and Chrimi asking important questions of both GPs and representatives of some of the groups who are eligible for free flu vaccines, including a care worker and the mother of a four-year-old.

The clips aim to address some of the common concerns around flu vaccinations, at a time when the free vaccine programme has been extended again this year to include all secondary school children from Years 7 to 11. It will also continue to be available to those aged 50 to 64, as introduced last winter.

Macmillan Academy’s head of drama, Kerry Slee, said: “We were very happy to support the region’s NHS by helping with this campaign, as we know how important it is for those eligible, including schoolchildren, to have the flu vaccine to protect themselves, their friends and families, and their wider communities.

“The students really loved taking part in the filming - it was a really good experience for them as well as a showcase of their burgeoning drama skills.”

One of those who features in the videos with the Macmillan pupils is Dr Neil O’Brien, a senior GP and lead for the North East and North Cumbria Flu Board. “It’s fantastic that Macmillan Academy were able to support us in this way, as this is such a crucial public health message that needs to be shared far and wide,” he said. “And who knows? In the process, we may have discovered the next Naga Munchetty or Huw Edwards!”

Despite additional pressures during the pandemic, record numbers of people in the region were vaccinated against flu last year and the focus is now well and truly on this winter, with an estimated 1.5 million people eligible for a free vaccine.

Dr O’Brien added: “I would really encourage those in at-risk groups, particularly those where uptake has previously remained low, such as younger people with medical conditions, children aged two and three, pregnant women and care workers, to come forward and get their flu vaccine. It remains the most safe and effective way of protecting yourself and others.”

Who is eligible for a free flu vaccine?

  • Those aged 50 and over (including those who'll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • Those with certain health conditions
  • Pregnant people
  • Those in long-stay residential care
  • Those who receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • Those who live with someone who is more likely to get infections
  • Frontline health or social care workers.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:

  • Children aged two and three on 31 August 2021
  • All primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • All secondary school children from Year 7 to 11
  • Children up to the age of 17 with long-term health conditions.

If your child is aged between six months and two years and is in a high-risk group for flu, they'll be offered an injection instead of the nasal spray.

If you have children at school, please look out for a consent form from their school – you may receive a paper consent or an email with a link to the e-consent. Remember to sign it and return it, or complete online, so the school know you have given your permission.

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