A WIGAN health visitor who survived a harrowing battle with swine flu is using her experiences to encourage people to take the vital jab.
Carol Williams, 43, who is a health visitor for the Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Division of Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, contracted the deadly virus during on Boxing Day last year and spent several weeks in intensive care.
The mother-of-two said: “I went in hospital on Boxing Day and was ventilated on New Year’s Day and spent 76 days in hospital.
“It has left me with the equivalent of one lung due to scarring because I was ventilated in hospital a long time.
“I now have neuropathy which feels like pins and needles in my hands and I get quite breathless.
“I am just lucky to be here.”
Carol, who lives in Bolton, is now using her bad experience to ensure people in Wigan, including NHS staff, get properly vaccinated.
During her recovery Carol agreed to let Stream Pictures, on behalf of Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, make a film about her experience, which was used to promote the seasonal flu vaccination programme to local NHS staff.
And her efforts have led to her winning the national Flu Fighter at the NHS Employers National Conference in Liverpool.
Carol said: “I am delighted by the recognition but what’s more important to me is that people get the vaccine. I hate to think of anyone going through what I did.
“Swine flu can kill vulnerable people - so if everyone gets the jab, it can save lives.”
Stephen Ward, medical director for Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, said; “We hope that sharing Carol’s experience will encourage more staff in the trust take up the vaccination and therefore protect their patients and the wider community against flu.”
As well as frontline healthcare workers, the flu vaccine is also available free on the NHS and is recommended if you are pregnant; 65 or older; have a serious medical condition; are a carer or live in a residential or nursing home.