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Byline: By HELEN RAE Health Reporter

A NEW scheme to give flu vaccinations to shoppers at a Tyneside supermarket has been welcomed by a medical expert in the region.

For the first time, Tesco Pharmacy at Kingston Park, Newcastle, is encouraging people to protect themselves against the winter virus with the launch of their new service.

While shopping for groceries, people can go to the store's pharmacist and pay pounds 10 for their immunisation.

Appointments take place in private consultation areas at the injection is given in the upper arm by pharmacists who have undertaken a flu vaccination training programme.

Dr Mike Guy, medical director of Newcastle and North Tyneside PCT and Northumberland Care Trust, said: "This is a great way for those people who are not entitled to a free flu vaccination on the NHS to get one in an easy and convenient place.

"The NHS has an annual free flu vaccination programme for people aged 65 and over and those of any age with a long-term condition such as diabetes and asthma.

"The best way to avoid catching flu is to get immunised.

"Each year the seasonal strain of flu modifies, meaning that a new vaccine must be developed to be effective.

"This is why it is important for people most at risk from flu to get the vaccine every year."

In any one year, 15% of the population may develop flu, meaning up to 38,930 residents in Tyneside could be affected.

Tesco Pharmacy is the first company to offer a pharmacistled flu vaccination service.

It is available at 150 of the organisation's in-store pharmacies in England and Wales.

Cheryl Smith, pharmacy manager of Tesco, said: "By providing a flu jab service, we are making it convenient for adults who don't quality for a free NHS jab.

"Those aged over 65 and those in at-risk groups can receive the jab free of charge on the NHS, but we are all susceptible to flu.

"The flu is infectious shortly before symptoms arise, so it's no surprise people blame work colleagues for giving it to them."


HEALTH ADVICE: Tesco at Kingston Park; GET PROTECTED: The new flu vaccine
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 17, 2008
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