A YOUNG friend being hospitalised with flu convinced South Swindon’s MP to get the jab.

It is the first time Robert Buckland, who has served as a Swindon MP since 2010, has received the flu vaccine.

The 49-year-old got the jab at his local Jephson Pharmacy in Wroughton – his local pharmacy.

Describing the procedure as “painless”, Robert encouraged others to get vaccinated against the winter flu virus.

He said: “I’m getting the flu jab for the first time, because I want to help spread awareness of the importance of immunisation as we approach winter.

“The effects of flu were really brought home to me when a friend was hospitalised at GWH with it recently.

“Our local pharmacies such as Jephsons are great places to get the jab. Don’t delay!”

Speaking after he received the jab, he added: “It was painless. I’m not particularly good with needles, but that was great.”

Nick Jephson, a pharmacist of 13 years and chairman of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “Pharmacies are well positioned to pick up people who are at risk of getting flu, but don’t necessarily have a flu jab normally.”

He said it was important for as many people as possible to get the flu vaccination.

“If you treat enough people, you make the fire break to stop the progression of the virus,” Nick added.

Health chiefs are gearing up for what could be a particularly bad winter for flu, after the virus swept through Australia during their winter season.

The flu vaccination is available free on the NHS to pregnant women, carers, those with long-term conditions like asthma, adults aged 65 and over or children over two.

Dr Peter Mack, clinical chair of NHS Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you or someone close to you falls into one of these categories, the flu vaccination is free because you or they really do need it.

“Whilst flu is usually a self-limiting illness, it can be very dangerous and cause serious complications for vulnerable people such as those with long-term conditions, and pregnant women.”

For more, visit: www.nhs.uk/flu