A VACCINATION to prevent vulnerable patients from contracting swine flu will begin in Haringey over the next two weeks.

Essential healthcare workers will be the first to get the jab to prevent staff shortages with four managers receiving the vaccine.

Frances Rourke, community nurse manager and flu lead for Haringey, said "Our frontline health carers are being vaccinated first to allow them to safely work with vulnerable patients and community members.

"This is to ensure crucial services are not affected."

The vaccination is not compulsory but patients high-risk groups are strongly advised to consider receiving it to avoid falling ill during winter.

Priority patients include pregnant women, those with damaged immune systems and those at risk of seasonal flu.

Helen Donovan, the immunisations lead for NHS Haringey, said: "GPs will be contacting at-risk patients when the vaccines have been delivered to their surgeries. This could take between one and three weeks.

"It is important patients wait until they are contacted to ensure GPs are not overloaded and are able to support the roll-out of the swine flu vaccination programme efficiently."

She added that if at-risk groups did not hear from their GP in 4 to 6 weeks they should call to arrange an appointment.