Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has re-issued the call for those eligible to get their flu vaccination, following recent reports of current strains of the flu virus resulting in hospitalisations with severe infection including among pregnant women.
The vaccine continues to offer the best defence against the virus and is free to those who are eligible, including people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, those aged 65 and over and carers.
Seasonal flu vaccine uptake figures are down by two per cent and six per cent, respectively, for those aged 65 years and over and those under 65 years with an at-risk condition prompting renewed calls for those who are more vulnerable to make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated.
Statistics show that over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related to, flu.
Ms Watt said: “Flu can be a very serious illness, and over the last few weeks, a significant number of people have been admitted to hospitals in Scotland with severe life threatening complications of flu infection.
“Our message to those who are eligible and haven’t yet had their flu vaccination is not to be complacent.
“We know viruses are circulating and you’re at greater risk of experiencing complications if you catch the flu virus, so don’t leave it to chance. Your GP practice will administer the vaccine and it takes around 14 days to work.
“The flu vaccine offered this season is a good match for the circulating strains being detected and is expected to provide good levels of protection. Even if you were immunised last winter, it’s important to receive the vaccine again as viruses change each season.
“Our aim is to ensure communities are protected to stop the spread of flu this winter, so if you’re eligible, I’d urge you not to delay. Make an appointment with your GP practice today.”
The seasonal flu vaccination is being administered by GP practice until the end of March 2016 as part of a national programme which will see over two million people offered the vaccination this winter.
For further information about the vaccine, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or visit www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu