Figures reveal that 34 per cent of local people 'at risk' from flu didn't take up the vaccine last year
Local people across the Western Isles who are eligible for the flu vaccine are being urged to come forward for the jab. Figures reveal that 34 per cent of people aged under 65 in the area who are entitled to get the flu jab didn't take up the offer last year.
Health professionals across the country are calling for people who are 'at risk' to get their annual flu jab as soon as possible to beat the flu virus this winter.
The Scottish Government's flu campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of the flu jab. The campaign is calling for the estimated 697 people in the under 65 'at risk' group living in the NHS Western Isles area who didn't get the vaccination last year, to get the jab as soon as possible this year. These figures don't include people over 65 who are also eligible for the free flu jab.
People that are eligible for the free flu jab are: those aged 65 and over, under 65s with existing long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and other heart, lung and liver diseases, pregnant women and unpaid carers of any age. Health and social care staff who deal directly with patients or clients are also recommended to receive the flu vaccine.
Flu is a serious illness and the vaccination is the most effective protection from the virus. People who are 'at-risk' can be hit harder with flu and can suffer more complications.
NHS Western Isles Medical Director James Ward, said,
"Flu should be taken seriously – it's not the same as the common cold and the virus can have an immediate and severe effect. If you are in one of the at-risk groups, then it's important to protect yourself from flu as it could hit you harder and last much longer. In severe cases you could even end up in hospital.
"If you're in one of the at-risk groups and haven't been contacted yet then you should make an appointment with your GP to get the free vaccination as soon as you can. It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated but it will give you protection against flu for around a year. The jab is quick, easy and safe so don't take the chance of getting ill this winter."
Last year's vaccine may not protect against this year's viruses so annual re-vaccination is advised to guard against any risk of reduced immunity. It takes about 10 days for you to be protected against the flu after having the jab so it's best to get it as early as possible in flu season (from October onwards).
If you are confused about whether you eligible for the vaccine, or would like to find out more information about it, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or log on to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk for further information on immunisation programmes.
NOTE TO NEWS EDITORS –
Vaccine uptake figures from 2011-12 are average figures provided by GP practices who have submitted data. Of the estimated 2,052 people in all at-risk groups in the NHS Western Isles area eligible for the flu jab, 66 per cent took up the offer last year, 2011/12.
In addition, 67.7 per cent of the 6,049 people aged over 65 in the NHS Western Isles area were vaccinated last year (4,098).
People considered to be 'at risk' are those of all ages with long-term illnesses, including:
- Chronic respiratory disease, e.g. asthma needing regular inhaled or oral steroids; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic heart conditions
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
- Chronic neurological conditions, e.g. stroke or multiple sclerosis
- Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, e.g. chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer or long-term steroid use
- Any other serious medical condition - patients are advised to consult their doctor, practice nurse or pharmacist.
For further information, please contact Nicola Armstrong or Ginnie Barnes at Consolidated PR on 0131 240 6420.