Scots are being reminded of the importance of being vaccinated against the flu this winter.
A fifth of the population should be immunised protecting individuals, and in turn, families, carers and health workers.
A new childhood flu programme protecting children will be rolled out this year starting with all two and three year olds being offered the nasal spray Fluenz.
It will be offered to around 120,000 two and three year olds and around 100,000 primary school aged children in Scotland. When fully implemented, around one million children across Scotland will have the chance to be immunised.
Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s Senior Medical Officer, reinforced the importance of getting immunised against flu: “Every year we see examples of how devastating flu can be. For those with existing health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart or liver problems flu can result in serious complications. Furthermore, those who are pregnant or over 65 are also at increased risk of flu and its complications and should be vaccinated to help protect against flu, even if they currently feel healthy and fit.
“Flu can also be very serious for children, particularly the youngest ones who have little or no immunity to the infection, which is why we are rolling out the new childhood flu immunisation programme. The childhood vaccination will be administered in most cases using a nasal spray, as this is more effective in children and has the added benefit of making it as simple as possible for children to get vaccinated and be protected.
“Getting immunised against flu is easy and safe, and it avoids unnecessary worry for you and those close to you. As a healthcare worker myself I have my flu vaccination every year and I’d encourage all those who are eligible to do the same. Together we should make sure we get all the protection we can so that everyone in Scotland can have a safer, healthier winter.”
If you need more information about the vaccine or to find out if you are in the “at risk” group go to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk or call the NHS Helpline on 0800 22 44 88