By Ian Dipple Monday 15 October 2012 Updated: 15/10 09:31
PARALYMPIAN Katrina Hart has called on residents with long-term health conditions to ensure they protect themselves this winter by getting their free flu jab.
The bronze medal winner backed the NHS Midlands and East Flu Safe campaign by getting her jab done at The Ridgeway Surgery in Astwood Bank.
Hart, from Stock Green near Inkberrow, is among those most at risk from flu because she has cerebral palsy.
The 22-year-old said: "This summer I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Team GB at the Paralympic Games, on home soil in London. Being at greater risk of serious complications from flu, the flu jab for me is a must and helps to make sure I stay protected, well and able to continue to be at the top of my game."
The jab is available for free at doctors' surgeries for those aged 65 and over as well as those people with long-term conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, liver or kidney disease and neurological conditions and diabetes.
Although the jab will not necessarily stop someone getting flu, it dramatically reduces the risk and also makes it less likely, if people are infected with the virus, they will develop serious complications.
The flu season traditionally starts in the Autumn and runs through until the Spring but the peak time is around Christmas and into the new year which is why people are being urged to protect themselves now. Carers of those with long-term conditions are also being urged to ensure they are protected.
Despite common myths, the jab does not contain the 'live' virus and is safe so cannot give anyone flu. But mild side effects such as a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards can occur.
The vaccine also changes every year to match the fact the flu strain changes each season, so even if someone had the jab last year it will no longer be effective.
Dr Richard Harling, director of public health for NHS Worcestershire, said: "Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse.
"Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital - it can even be a killer."
People should contact their GP to arrange a jab or for more information.
FURTHER evidence has emerged a rare butterfly is
A SURGE in the number of new businesses
OLYMPIAN Nick Skelton said he was honoured to
RENAMING the town's car parks and improving the
A FOOD collection will be held at Sainsbury's in Northfield ...
A PRISONER who went on the run after being released ...
THE INCREASING popularity of rowing in the wake of the ...