It’s time to fight off the threat of flu

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Falkirk area residents who qualify for the flu vaccine are being urged to get protected ahead of winter as the annual vaccination programme gets underway.

Health chiefs are looking for a repeat performance of last year’s campaign, when NHS Forth Valley again achieved the highest uptake of the flu vaccine in the over 65 age group.

The area logged a take-up rate of 76 per cent and was second highest for the under 65 at-risk group.

Forth Valley also achieved top place in the carers category, with a 58 per cent success rate compared with the Scottish average of 47 per cent.

This year’s vaccine aims to offer protection against four strains for most age groups, and is designed to target both over-65’s and also younger people who have chronic illnesses which can make flu much more dangerous.

These include people with diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease, chronic kidney failure, liver problems, cystic fibrosis, and lowered immunity due to disease or treatment.

Pregnant women, unpaid carers and healthcare staff are also eligible for vaccination.

GP Practices across the NHS Forth Valley area are also providing free vaccine as a nasal spray for children aged two to five, and primary school pupils are being offered the vaccine at school to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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 and make an appointment with their GP. Medical Practices are also arranging open clinics so please go along if you have been invited”.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Last winter was a particularly bad year for flu, with a rise in the number of cases and hospitalisations.

“That’s why this year we want to ensure as many people as possible are protected from flu, ahead of winter hitting.

“Flu can be extremely serious for those who are vulnerable and is very infectious.

“We can best protect the people of Scotland by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated early. Not only will you protect yourself, but you’ll also be playing a part in helping stop the spread of the virus this winter.”

For further information visit www.readyforflu.scot or phone NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.