Flu vaccines MUST be used to avoid deadly complications, urges Paula Radcliffe

The consequences of flu could be serious, Radcliffe said, whose own asthma has developed into bronchitis a number of times.

Radcliffe’s comments after reports that deadly Aussie flu was headed to the UK.

Australia is in the midst of its worst outbreak of the flu in 50 years.

Being vaccinated this winter against flu will help those most at-risk from flu to be protected, Radcliffe said.

“When you feel fit and healthy it is easy to think that you don’t need to worry about having a flu vaccination,” she said. 

“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.”

Radcliffe had to pull out of the World Cross Country Championships in 1993, after her asthma developed into bronchitis.

“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.”

People with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and autoimmune conditions at risk of developing severe complications from flu.

Complications include bronchitis, pneumonia, and even death.

Despite the risks, less than half of at-risk patients were vaccinated against flu last year.

The vaccine is part of the national immunisation programme, and is completely free.

Doctors have been worrying about the small numbers of at-risk patients being vaccinated, according to vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur.

“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,” said Sanofi Pasteur UK & Ireland’s Medical Head, Dr Ian Gray.

“In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is developing guidance, due out in January 2018, about helping to increase the uptake of the free flu vaccination among people who are eligible.”

In the UK, between 4,000 and 14,000 people die every year from flu complications, according to the World Health Organization.

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