This winter, pharmacist Alison Sparkes of Medicine Centre, Neath carried out flu vaccinations for the Ospreys squad and staff.
Flu or influenza can be a serious condition especially in those who are elderly, have a chronic condition or a poor immune system. Spread by a virus from person to person, it often leads to high temperature, aching muscles and feeling pretty unwell.
In the normal population this is a hindrance and usually leads to time off work and bed-rest - for professional athletes it is a cause of concern as the after-effects can last more than the usual 7 days and hamper performance.
Pharmacists like Alison have started offering flu vaccinations as a private service, because of accessible opening times and a more individual service, and because the NHS only offers free vaccination to certain groups of patients, so it is not widely available to everyone. The flu vaccine protects against the strain of flu in any one particular year and out of 10 people 7-8 will be protected. It does not help prevent colds and coughs of other types of virus.
Before the vaccination can be given there is a screening process to exclude people who are not suitable to receive it and those that need to be referred back to their GP. The service is accredited and fully insured.