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Paula Radcliffe urges at-risk groups to have flu vaccine

paula radcliffe

Following warnings from NHS England that the UK could face a significant increase in flu cases this winter after a heavy flu season in Australia and New Zealand, it is important that people, particularly those in clinical at-risk groups, think about protecting themselves against the virus this season.

Just over half (51.4%) of those in at risk groups did not get vaccinated against the flu virus in 2016/2017, although vaccination is offered to them free of charge as part of the national immunisation programme. To help encourage people who are either more susceptible to getting flu, or more vulnerable if they do, to speak to their healthcare professional about flu vaccination, Sanofi Pasteur has teamed up with six-time world champion athlete, Paula Radcliffe – who people may be surprised to discover, is more susceptible to complications from flu because of her asthma.

Flu vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious complications from flu, and for people who live with or care for at-risk individuals.

Paula, who has had asthma since she was a child, explains why nobody is invincible, even a world class athlete like herself: “When you feel fit and healthy it is easy to think that you don’t need to worry about having a flu vaccination. You think that if you are unlucky enough to contract flu, your body will be able to fight it off. However, even though I’m an athlete, and have my asthma under control, I know the consequences of flu could be serious.

“I’ve had flu a number of times and it has developed into bronchitis, which I’ve been told is because of my asthma. In 1993, I actually missed the trials for the World Cross Country Championships because I was so ill, despite the fact I’d been eating healthily in an effort to boost my immunity! That taught me about the importance of being vaccinated against flu, so I’m teaming up with Sanofi Pasteur to help encourage people like me in at-risk groups to take the risks of flu seriously and get vaccinated this winter.”

Past studies have shown 28-59% of healthcare workers experience flu infections without classic symptoms. Dr Radha Modgil, GP and media medic, comments, “According to the World Health Organization, the most effective way to help prevent flu and reduce the impact of an epidemic is vaccination. Well-tolerated and effective vaccines are available and have been used for more than 60 years. Vaccination is important for front-line healthcare professionals to help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to others, including family, friends, colleagues and patients.’’

Dr Ian Gray, Medical Head, Sanofi Pasteur UK & Ireland comments: “For several years the medical community has been concerned about the consistently low number of eligible people in at-risk groups taking up the NHS flu vaccination. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is developing guidance, due out in January 2018, about helping to increase the uptake of the free flu vaccination among people who are eligible.

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