Flu can be very serious for even the healthiest of us, but for some groups it can cause life-threatening complications and in the worst cases, death.
NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands is encouraging everyone to get their vaccination this winter, to help limit the spread of the virus and to keep ourselves and each other protected.
Erika Polgar, mum of two and a member of staff at NHS England and NHS Improvement, knows all too well the impact flu can have on vulnerable people. Here she explains why she and her family get their vaccinations every year, and encourages others to do the same:
“As soon as the colder weather creeps in, my family and I immediately start thinking about getting our flu vaccinations. We see it as a real priority for us, as not only are we protecting each other and those around us, but it’s especially important for our 11-year-old son, Kristof.
“When Kristof was three, he underwent a liver transplant after being diagnosed with a rare condition which stopped him from being able to walk. The transplant absolutely changed his life and ours, and he’s now going from strength to strength, having just won three gold medals as a member of Team GB & NI at the World Transplant Games this summer.
“But that transplant means he’s now at risk of developing serious complications if he catches the flu. What can be a relatively simple, but unpleasant, illness for most people, can be fatal to him. He’s immunosuppressed, which means his immune system isn’t as effective as most people’s, in order to stop his body from rejecting the transplanted organ. It will be like that for the rest of his life.
“One of the many problems with flu is that anyone can carry it, often without having any symptoms yourself. You could feel as health as possible, but one conversation or one crossed path is all it takes for you to pass it on to your family, friends, colleagues or even strangers in the street. If I were to catch it from someone, I’d be taking it back to Kristof and it would increase his risk of getting seriously ill.
“The simplest way to stop that from happening is to get your flu vaccination too. We can all work together to reduce the spread of the virus and keep children and adults like Kristof as healthy as possible over the winter period. And you’ll be keeping yourself safe too!”
For more information flu vaccinations, visit the NHS website.