AROUND 30 million people in England, including those over 50, will be offered a free winter flu jab this year to help the NHS as it continues to battle Covid-19.

This is most welcome news and is part of the Government’s preparations for any potential second wave of the pandemic. Flu is serious, especially in winter, and giving this jab to more people than ever before is sensible to ease pressure on the NHS, if flu and a surge in Covid-19 combine.

Those eligible are anyone shielding from coronavirus and anyone they live with, people with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and asthma, frontline workers, pregnant women and pre-school children over the age of two.

All primary school children and, for the first time, all Year 7 pupils in secondary schools will also receive the vaccine. People over 65 will receive it first and then the programme will be extended to the over-50s. The NHS will be in contact.

A flu vaccine is not 100% effective as there are often several strains of the virus but it can help a great deal. I had one last year for the first time because I was pregnant.

Last week, I received the great honour of becoming a vice president of the Cotswold Canals Trust. I love spending time walking the canals and I’ve been a member of the trust for a while.

I have supported the bid because I know Cotswold Canals Connected Project would mean a great deal to Stroud in terms of leisure amenities, regeneration, tourism and employment opportunities.

I believe this is now more important than ever as Stroud, the Valleys and Vale start to recover from the pandemic. It is a positive way to encourage tourism, more exercise and healthier lifestyles too. We can become a fitter and thinner nation and more projects like this. I will continue to be this project’s champion.