Flu: Threat of an epidemic in Forth Valley increasingly unlikely

The threat of a serious flu epidemic this year looks increasingly unlikely, Forth Valley’s director of public health said.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 6:20 am

Dr Graham Foster told members of Forth Valley NHS board on Tuesday that although the mass flu vaccination programme had been paused, a very high number of people most at risk had already been vaccinated.

And he praised the efforts of vaccination teams, and said the skilled staff would give them the ability to quickly ‘ramp up’ flu vaccination if it was necessary.

Dr Foster said: “There has been some flu in Europe – not a lot. It’s something we are watching very closely.

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“At this point in time there has not been any significant increase in flu cases in the UK, and again we’re watching very closely.

“As we stand, although we suspended the flu programme, we suspended it after having vaccinated almost all of the usual high risk groups, so over two million people were vaccinated against flu, which is the equivalent of our previous flu campaign anyway.

“The bit that we didn’t do was go on to do the whole population over 50, but if there is clear evidence of a flu epidemic coming this winter then we could re-start that but at the moment there is no such evidence and that does not seem necessary.”

He added: “The programme is still open to opportunistic screening, so anyone who is in the high risk groups if they are in for any other reason they will be offered a flu vaccine and they can still come forward to be vaccinated.

“We’re in a pretty solid position about flu, in that we’ve got better vaccine coverage than we’ve had in previous years, and we’ve also got a relatively low level of flu in the community and we’re really alert to it.

“It’s probably six-eight weeks off the point where we can relax on flu, so we need to just keep our eyes open.”

He added: “Because we’ve got that tremendous vaccination team that did such a brilliant job with the Covid boosters, if we did have flu coming we could ramp it up very quickly.”

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