People in Forth Valley Urged to Help Protect Against Flu- Free Vaccine Still Available for Eligible Groups in Forth Valley

People with underlying health conditions in Forth Valley are being urged to get the free flu vaccine.

The call comes after statistics highlighting that 54%[i] of at risk people in Forth Valley are yet to have the vaccine. As well as being available at GP practices across the area, NHS Forth Valley has also recently started offering the vaccine to patients attending outpatient clinics, the Emergency Department and maternity clinics at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to help increase uptake in high risk groups.

With a four-fold increase in the number of people suffering from flu since the start of the year, Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell is urging everyone eligible for the free flu vaccine to immunised.

Ms Campbell said: “It is vitally important that people are aware of the steps they can take to avoid being struck down by flu, and realise that it’s not too late to get immunised – you can still make an appointment at your GP surgery even if they are no longer running dedicated clinics.

“The flu vaccine is free for those in higher risk groups and I would urge those who are eligible to take advantage of this. The vaccine offers the best defence against the most common types of flu circulating at the moment. Every year in Scotland around two thirds of people who get severe flu and need intensive care treatment have a health condition such as chronic lung or heart disease. People with health conditions are at a greater risk and need the best available protection, which is the vaccine – no matter what age you are, how fit and healthy you feel, if you have a health condition including diabetes, asthma, bronchitis and heart disease, you are more vulnerable to flu.

“All pregnant women, at any stage of their pregnancy, should also get immunised – not only to help protect themselves, but to help protect their developing baby. Anyone aged 65 years or over is eligible too.”

Dr Henry Prempeh, NHS Forth Valley Public Health Consultant, said: “Anyone with a health condition, people aged 65 years or over and woman who are pregnant are urged to get the free flu vaccine as soon as possible if they have not already done so. The vaccine offers the best defence against the most common types of flu circulating at the moment. Contact your GP surgery today to make an appointment.”

James Cant, director of BHF Scotland, said: “Sadly, many people will be struggling with flu this winter and for people with health conditions such as heart disease, it can prove to be extremely debilitating. We’ve urging those eligible to get the free flu vaccine as soon as possible – as a defence to both yourself and others.”

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 The flu vaccine, free for those in higher risk groups, is one of the most important preventative health measures people can take.

While flu can be unpleasant, for most healthy people it will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:

  • anyone aged 65 years or over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with a health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems

The national flu campaign launched at the start of October to promote both the seasonal and child flu vaccine programme includes press, digital and social media activity, television and radio adverts. It involved distribution of materials to a range of partners.

[i] Source: Forth Valley flu vaccine uptake rate for 2017/18 for all risk groups (excluding healthy pregnant women and carers) was 45.8%, NHS National Services Scotland.