A WOMAN who was hospitalised and needed treatment in an intensive care unit because she missed a flu jab is warning others not to end up like her.

Helen Watts, a legal secretary from Jeffreyston, did not get her jab in 2016 while her twin sister Sam Robinson did.

Both sisters have asthma, and each make a point of ensuring they have their flu vaccine every year. But, in 2016, while Sam rolled up her sleeve, Helen didn’t – a mistake she would go on to regret.

“I just completely forgot it.” Helen said.

“You know what life is like, things get in the way and sometimes you don’t get around to doing the things you should.”

However, it was that winter that Helen became very unwell with flu.

“She became unwell very quickly and was taken into hospital very soon after becoming ill.” Sam said.

“Helen was really struggling to breathe. It’s awful to see someone you love so ill and to see them so vulnerable.”

Helen’s condition deteriorated in hospital, when she became so unwell that her husband received a call at 2am asking for the family to urgently go in and visit her. Doctors were unsure at that point whether she would make a full recovery.

“I can remember feeling really helpless at the time and overall, just scared.” Helen says.

“I didn’t want the family to visit me because I didn’t want them to see me in that way”.

Sam added: “I felt sick to my stomach and remember walking around my house just saying repeatedly, ‘please don’t die, please don’t die…’

“I even felt angry with her because I knew she hadn’t had her flu vaccine. I was genuinely cross she had put herself in that position.”

Annual flu vaccination is the best protection against catching or spreading flu and people across Wales with long-term health conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, can get their annual flu vaccine free, along with pregnant women, children aged two or three, and aged 6 months to 17 years with a long-term health condition, those aged 65 and over, unpaid carers and care home residents.

Helen made a slow recovery and was only able to fully return to work after 12 months. But the long-term implications of what she went through are still being felt, both by herself and her family.

Her sister Sam said: “I now suffer with anxiety relating to health issues, which is manageable, but if Helen has a cold – or she’s just not well in general – I can’t help but start to think the worst.”

Helen adds, “To those who think they won’t bother with a flu vaccine this year, I’d ask them to think again because, if you fall ill, it’s not just you who’s affected. I’ve witnessed first-hand how serious flu can be.

“I don’t want people to risk getting as ill with flu as I did, and also I’d hate to see anyone else’s family experience what my family went through.”

For more information about flu, including who is eligible for a free flu vaccine visit www.beatflu.org.