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National flu vaccination programme launches in Scotland

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People eligible for the flu vaccine in Scotland, including NHS staff, are being urged to “act early and get protected” ahead of winter, as the annual flu vaccination programme gets underway.

The Scottish government noted that the number of reported cases of flu more than doubled last winter.

“This year we want to ensure as many people as possible are protected from flu”

Jeane Freeman

As usual, NHS Scotland workers and carers are being offered the vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus to the vulnerable.

However, the Scottish government has stopped short of the stronger message given to NHS staff in England this year on flu vaccination.

Last month, frontline health service staff in England were told by NHS leaders that they were all “expected” to have an influenza vaccination.

The government in Scotland said today that the flu vaccine would be offered to around 2.5 million people in total this year.

As well as NHS staff, these included those with health conditions, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and children aged two to 11.

With the flu vaccine available from GP practices from this week, it said the advice for those eligible was to “make the vaccination a priority to ensure they’re protected ahead of winter”.

Figures show that on average, 1,918 people are admitted to hospital for influenza or its complications each year in Scotland.

Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This year we want to ensure as many people as possible are protected from flu ahead of winter hitting.

“The vaccine is safe, effective, and remains the best protection against the flu virus,” she said. “It is important to stress that the flu vaccine offered to those ages 65-74 this winter still provides protection.

She added: “Last winter was a particularly bad year for flu, with a rise in the number of cases and hospitalisations.

“Flu can be extremely serious for those who are vulnerable, and is very infectious,” she said. “We can best protect the people of Scotland by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated early.”

More information is available from the Get Ready for Flu website.

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