Young former patients from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust are the focus of a nationwide Department of Health campaign launched today, urging under 25-year-olds to get a Covid vaccination.
Ella Harwood a 23 year-old illustrator from Sutton and Megan Higgins, a 25-year-old special needs tutor from Leatherhead, are the two young people featured in the Government’s new film. Both have been through the Trust’s ground-breaking Long Covid Rehabilitation Programme – the first of its kind in the UK and which has treated more than 400 patients.
In the film, Ella tells of her Covid experience: “I was 21, fit, healthy and active. But then for seven months solid, I felt like I might die. My advice to anyone is to get the vaccine – it’s a naïve way of thinking to think you’re invincible just because you are young and healthy.”
And Megan points out the ongoing effects the virus is still having on her: “I could sleep for a week and still be tired. My joints, my body and even my teeth ache – this can affect anybody, and even if it doesn’t affect you, you can carry it and infect your loved ones.”
Ella and Megan are joined in the film by Covid Rehabilitation Lead for Surrey Downs Tom Williamson. Tom said: "It is heart-breaking seeing young people in our Long Covid programmes - and the long-term, possibly permanent, changes the virus had made to their lives.
“Some patients can no longer do the sports and activities they love, and some are still unable to have work many months after becoming ill. My message is clear, COVID-19 can affect anyone, regardless of age, fitness or lifestyle, so please get vaccinated: it’s the best way to protect yourself and others.”
Anyone in England aged 16 and over can now have the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on booking vaccines, information and support, young people can go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/