New Flu Campaign Urges People to Trust the Facts

The flu season has begun and people over the age of 65 and those in ‘at risk’ groups across Forth Valley are beginning to receive their invitations to get vaccinated. This year there are four different vaccines, each designed specifically to maximise protection within the different groups.

Health experts have already warned that although the prevalence of flu was fairly low in the UK last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases reported this year in Australia, a trend which could be mirrored here.

The latest national campaign includes radio and TV ads and social media posts and short animations urging people to trust the facts about vaccination. It warns that that flu in people aged 65 or over can be life threatening, healthcare workers can spread flu to vulnerable patients and four out of ten people hospitalised with flu have a long term health condition. Protecting children can also stop it spreading to family, friends and others.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh, said: “Vaccination provides the best defence against flu and getting it early is vital. I’d encourage everyone eligible to make their flu vaccination a priority. GP practices are also arranging open clinics so please go along if you have been invited.”

The specific target groups are people over the age of 65 or those under 65 with chronic illnesses which can make flu much more dangerous. These include people with heart disease, chest complaints such as bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, chronic kidney failure, cystic fibrosis, lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, diabetes or liver problems. Last year saw a decline in uptake amongst those with long term conditions. Children are also at greater risk as even healthy children can become seriously ill from flu a number may require hospital treatment.

Pregnant women, unpaid carers and healthcare staff are also eligible for vaccination and GP practices across the NHS Forth Valley area are providing free vaccine in the form of a nasal spray for children aged two to five. Primary school pupils aged 5 – 11 are being offered the vaccine at local schools across Forth Valley.

Last year NHS Forth Valley achieved the second highest uptake of the flu vaccine in the over 65 age group with a rate of 76.2% compared with a Scottish average of 73.7%. They also achieved top place in the carers category with a 55.2% success compared with a Scottish average of 45.1%.