Protecting against flu

8 Jan 2018 11:49 AM

Free vaccine is best form of protection.

The Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officer are joining together to urge all eligible adults to take up the offer of the free flu vaccination.

Latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show just over 41% of those aged under 65, who are considered ‘at risk’, have had their flu jab this winter – but cases of flu have more than doubled compared to the same time last year.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“The flu virus can make even healthy people very unwell – and puts extra pressure on our health service at what is already a very busy time of year.

“The flu vaccine offers the best defence against the most common strains of the virus circulating this year and has an excellent safety record.

“Each year the World Health Organisation determines which influenza strains should be covered within the influenza vaccination programme and the health services across the UK use these recommended vaccines as these are likely to be the most effective .”

CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood said:

“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.

“Given that we’ve already seen a large increase in cases of flu this winter,  I’d encourage those who are eligible – including those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and healthcare workers – to make getting the vaccination a priority and book an appointment with their GP practice or health board as soon as possible.”

Background

The most recent figures on vaccine uptake can be found here.

To find out more about the free flu vaccine visit Immunisation Scotland or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.

Anyone with a health condition is at greater risk from flu. Conditions and diseases which can make flu more dangerous include:

  • Asthma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Liver problems such as cirrhosis/hepatitis
  • Emphysema
  • Diabetes
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
  • Chronic heart  disease
  • Being very overweight
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • HIV infection

Over-65s, pregnant women and healthcare workers are also eligible.

A co-ordinated communication and marketing plan was launched at the start of October to promote both the seasonal and child flu vaccination programme. With the in-school vaccination programme achieving high levels of vaccination amongst primary school children, the Childhood campaign this year focuses on encouraging parents of 2-5 year olds to have their child vaccinated. Similarly, the seasonal campaign this year aims to improve vaccine uptake amongst under 65s with health conditions, pregnant women and healthcare workers.

Overview of activity:

  • The Childhood and Seasonal campaigns will run on television, radio, digital and social media platforms until the end of December.
  • A programme of PR has gained extensive press coverage to date, with activity continuing through to January 2018. As part of the partnership approach, campaign materials have been distributed to a wider range of partners including the British Heart Foundation, Chest, Heart and Stroke, British Red Cross, Diabetes Scotland, Scottish businesses (Healthy Working Lives registered), Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Parenting across Scotland, Jo Jingles and Dads Rock. 
  • GP letters were sent to all parents of 2-5 year olds and over 65s; education packs and consent forms for all primary schools; a healthcare worker toolkit sent out to local and special health boards; and campaign materials made available from GP surgeries, nurseries, libraries, community centres and antenatal clinics