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South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to get their flu jab to protect themselves and others this winter.

Flu is a very common and highly infectious disease caused by influenza viruses.

flu jab1It can make people seriously ill - especially older adults, those with underlying health conditions, and those who are pregnant.

Health officials are concerned about the potential impact of Covid-19 and flu circulating together this winter.

Senior medics are urging people to get the flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster as soon as possible, because both viruses have the potential to cause serious illness and hospitalisation.

SWASFT colleagues are also encouraging people to get their winter vaccines to maximise their protection.

Gary, a Community First Responder based in the South Hams in Devon, said: “I was fit and healthy serving my 29th year in the armed forces when I was urgently hospitalised with Covid-19.

“Even if you’re healthy, get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.”

Mike, a Clinical Adviser in SWASFT’s Control Room, said: “Vaccination is vital to protect people like me who are immunocompromised. This means I am at greater of serious complications from the flu and Covid-19.”

Bristol Paramedic Sophie said: “Asthma makes me susceptible to the flu and other viruses. I always get vaccinated when offered to minimise the risk of getting ill.”

Sam, an Emergency Care Assistant based in Exmouth, said: “I frequently attend elderly and vulnerable patients who are at high risk of flu and Covid-19. I have my vaccinations to help keep them and others safe.”

Dorset Paramedic Alice said: “I get vaccinated for flu and Covid-19 to help protect vulnerable patients in care and nursing homes.”

A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences warned respiratory illness could reach very high levels this winter, causing signficant pressure on the NHS and up to 60,000 deaths.

More than 40 million people across the UK – including people most at risk and those more likely to spread flu, such as school children – are being offered a free jab this year in the biggest flu vaccination campaign so far.

GP surgeries will contact patients eligible for the free NHS flu vaccine, or eligible patients can book an appointment at a pharmacy. Pregnant women can ask for their free flu jab at their local maternity service.

People who are not eligible for a free flu jab can pay for it privately at many pharmacies, at a cost of around £15.

Those who qualify for the Covid-19 booster should wait to be contacted about it.