Health Minister Maureen Watt is cautioning against complacency as flu viruses circulate during the winter months.
Maureen Watt has re-issued the call for those eligible to get their flu vaccination, following recent reports of current strains of the flu virus resulting in hospitalisations with severe infection including among pregnant women.
On week ending Sunday 17 January, 2016:
· 73% of over 65’s in Ayrshire and Arran had already been vaccinated against flu.
· 46% of those with an underlying conditions in Ayrshire and Arran had already been vaccinated against flu.
Dr Elvira Garcia, Flu Immunisation Co-ordinator in Ayrshire and Arran, said: “It’s very important that people aged 65 and over, those with health conditions, pregnant women, and unpaid carers get vaccinated to reduce the risk of catching flu and suffering serious complications.
“Viruses will continue to circulate until the spring, so it is not too late to get the vaccination.
“There is an increasing awareness that flu is much worse than the common cold. It is an illness that can strike suddenly and cause serious health issues for those at risk, as evidenced by the rise in recent hospital admissions. It is crucial that those who are eligible protect themselves as soon as possible, to safeguard their own health and also prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine will offer protection for around a year.”
“I urge all those who are eligible for the flu vaccine to speak with their GP practice to arrange their free vaccination.”
The flu vaccine continues to offer the best defence against the virus and is free to those who are eligible, including people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, those aged 65 and over and carers.
Seasonal flu vaccine uptake figures are down by two per cent and six per cent, respectively, for those aged 65 years and over and those under 65 years with an at-risk condition prompting renewed calls for those who are more vulnerable to make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated.
Statistics show that over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related to, flu.
Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “Flu can be a very serious illness, and over the last few weeks, a significant number of people have been admitted to hospitals in Scotland with severe life threatening complications of flu infection. Our message to those who are eligible and haven’t yet had their flu vaccination is not to be complacent. We know viruses are circulating and you’re at greater risk of experiencing complications if you catch the flu virus, so don’t leave it to chance.”