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Increase in flu cases requiring intensive care treatment

‘At risk’ groups encouraged to receive vaccination

Scottish medical experts are urging people with underlying health conditions to protect themselves against flu, after recent figures showed 26 new flu related intensive care admissions since the end of December.

The first half of January saw an increase in the number of people being admitted to intensive care with severe flu related illnesses, with the majority of cases having an underlying medical condition.

As a result of the sudden change in weather and drop in temperature, health professionals are reminding people who are ‘at risk’ that the best way to stay healthy is to get the vaccine.

Despite increased flu cases, over 48 per cent of Scots who suffer from underlying conditions have yet to receive the free flu vaccine. Those who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated are being urged to make an appointment with their GP practice immediately.

More than two million Scots are being offered the flu vaccine as part of the flu vaccination programme, to ensure that people who need it most receive free protection. People with chronic conditions such as, emphysema, asthma, heart problems, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney or liver disease, and women who are pregnant, can be hit harder by flu and suffer more serious complications, even if they are generally fit and healthy. These groups are eligible to receive the vaccine for free at their local GP surgery.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:

“It is important that those who are eligible for the flu vaccination, make an appointment as soon as possible, to protect their health.

“Flu is a serious illness and each year the winter months present an increase in the number of cases requiring hospital treatment. Flu can cause severe health complications and the best way to protect yourself and help prevent spread of the virus is to get vaccinated.

“It only takes a few minutes and even if you were immunised against flu last winter it is important to receive the vaccine again, as the viruses change each season."

In Scotland, those still to receive the vaccine include:

  • 54 per cent of pregnant women. A pregnant woman who contracts flu is five times more likely to have a stillborn baby or for her baby to die in the first week following birth.
  • 48 per cent of people under 65 with underlying health problems
  • 25 per cent of people aged 65 year old and over

Those who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated should make an appointment with their GP surgery as soon as possible.

If you would like to find out more information about the flu vaccine, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or log on to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk.

Background:

  • Vaccine uptake figures are average figures provided by GP practices who have submitted data up to week 3, 2015 (week ending 18 January). Full information is available athttp://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/resp/seasonalinfluenza.aspx#report
  • The vaccine takes 10-14 days to work and should protect you from flu for a year.
  • The following groups are eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine:
          - Those aged 65 years of age and over 
          - Those with a medical condition which puts them in an 'at risk' group such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung conditions
          - All healthcare staff
          - Unpaid carers
  • Pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions) and seven more times likely to die than a non-pregnant woman with flu. Women can have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy.
  • Evidence also shows that the vaccine can help to protect your baby for up to three months after birth.
    Public facing healthcare professionals are also being urged to get the seasonal flu vaccine to ensure that they are protected and stop the spread of flu to vulnerable patients. For more information on flu seewww.immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu

 

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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