People in Tayside show flu who’s boss

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New uptake figures reveal that a quarter (25 per cent) of people eligible to be immunised against flu in Tayside have already taken up the offer of the free flu vaccine, as the call was issued for more to come forward.

As winter sets in, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and people aged 65 and over are being urged to make an appointment to get vaccinated this month, as the flu vaccine offers the best defence against the most common strains of the virus.

Figures highlight that 25 per cent of those with underlying health conditions and 21 per cent of those who are pregnant in the NHS Tayside region are already showing flu who’s boss by getting vaccinated.

In addition, 23 per cent of parents of children aged 2-5 years and not yet in primary school have made an appointment with their GP to help ensure their child is better protected this winter.

Over two million people in Scotland will be offered the flu vaccination this year, and for the first time, all parents of children aged 2-5 years and not yet in school have been contacted and encouraged to make an appointment to get their child vaccinated in a bid to help protect as many children as possible.

Underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, lung disease and heart disease, can make people more vulnerable to flu, and health professionals in Tayside are backing the campaign to drive uptake and ensure everyone in the region is ready for flu when it hits.

Dr Nicola Steedman, Senior Medical Officer for the Scottish Government Flu campaign, said: “Over the last five years, around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable to, or related to flu, so it is vitally important to make sure that you get the vaccine to help to protect you.

“Flu can strike suddenly and it’s important to be ready. If you have a long-term medical condition, are pregnant, or are 65 years old or over, the best way to help protect yourself against the serious effects of flu is to get vaccinated, even if you are feeling perfectly well. The flu vaccination is quick and easy, takes 10-14 days to work, and will help to protect you for around a year.

“Every year we see examples of how serious flu can be for young children – they may have little immunity to the infection and the virus can develop into more serious health complications for them, including pneumonia and inner ear conditions. The vaccine offers the best defence against the dangers of flu.

“Approximately 550,000 children will be offered the nasal flu vaccine this year. Parents of children aged 2-5 years who are not yet in primary school should contact their GP practice as soon as possible to arrange their vaccination.”

Dr Daniel Chandler, Flu Immunisation Co-ordinator in Tayside, added: “I urge all those who are eligible for the flu vaccine to speak with their GP practice today to arrange their free vaccination. More people than ever before are now being vaccinated against flu and there is an increasing awareness that flu is much worse than the common cold.

“Catching flu can cause unnecessary worry for friends and family as well as posing a risk of spreading the virus to more vulnerable members of society. Flu viruses will circulate across Scotland as we move further into winter so make sure you minimise your risk of catching flu as soon as possible.”

If you would like to find out more information about the flu vaccine, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or visit www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu.