Public Urged to Protect Themselves and Others from Flu as Cases Rise
Public health experts at NHS Forth Valley are appealing to people who have flu-like symptoms not to visit family and friends at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and community hospitals in Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Bo’ness. The warning follows confirmation from Health Protection Scotland that there is an increased incidence of influenza throughout the country.
NHS Forth Valley is also reminding everyone who is eligible for the vaccine and has yet to receive it, especially those people who are ‘at risk’, to get their annual flu vaccine from their local GP. Flu is a serious illness and the vaccination helps protect against the virus. People who are ‘at-risk’ can be hit harder with flu and can suffer more complications.
NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Henry Prempeh said: “The vaccine helps to protect against this year’s flu virus. It is effective in stopping infection, and in the small number of cases when flu infection occurs despite vaccination, it can also significantly reduce the severity of illness.
“Vaccination is needed every year because the virus changes constantly and your immunity reduces over time. It takes around ten days to work, so the sooner people who need it, get it, the better.
“The vaccine contains no live viruses so it can’t give you flu. It’s quick, safe and free to those who are eligible for the vaccine. To prevent spread of flu and other viruses, people should also use a tissue to cover their nose and mouth with a disposable single-use tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing noses and dispose of used tissues in the nearest waste bin. You should also wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues.”
People who are eligible for the free flu vaccine are those aged 65 and over, under 65s with existing long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and other heart, lung and liver diseases, pregnant women and unpaid carers of any age. Health and social care staff who deal directly with patients or clients are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine.
If you want to check if you are eligible for the vaccine, or would like to find out more information about it, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or log on to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk for further information on immunisation programmes.