STAFF at Oxfordshire's hospitals have started to receive their flu vaccinations as the NHS prepares for winter, as well as a second coronavirus peak.

Among those first in line to get their jab was Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, chair of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe.

With coronavirus cases rising, the trust has said having frontline staff protected has become more important than ever this year.

The aim is to not only prevent staff from catching the virus and passing it onto people in their care, but also to limit absences due to illness.

Professor Meghana Pandit, chief medical officer at OUH, said: “We are encouraging all of our staff to have their flu vaccination this year.

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“It is one of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter, and also helps our staff to protect both their patients and their loved ones from flu.

“Importantly, it also reduces the risk of staff absence due to flu over the coming busy months.”

Flu is a highly infectious disease which is spread from person to person and infects the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other serious complications.

The flu viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people need to be vaccinated annually.

As well as frontline NHS staff, eligibility for free flu jabs, which are offered by GPs and pharmacists, has also been expanded this year to protect more vulnerable groups.

It is hoped this will prevent an influx of ill patients coinciding with a second wave of coronavirus.