An urgent call has gone out to people in at-risk categories to take up their flu vaccinations.
The appeal was made today (Tuesday, January 26) following recent reports of current strains of the flu virus resulting in hospitalisations with severe infection, including among pregnant women.
The flu vaccine is free to those who are eligible, including people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, over 65s and carers.
However, seasonal flu vaccine uptake is down by two per cent for over 65s and six per cent for those under 65 with an at-risk condition.
Over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related, to flu.
In the week ending January 17, 16 confirmed influenza cases with severe infection requiring intensive care management (ICU cases) were reported.
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. Your GP practice will administer the vaccine and it takes around 14 days to work.
“The flu vaccine offered this season is a good match for the circulating strains being detected and is expected to provide good levels of protection. Even if you were immunised last winter, it’s important to receive the vaccine again as viruses change each season.
“Our aim is to ensure communities are protected to stop the spread of flu this winter, so if you’re eligible, I’d urge you not to delay. Make an appointment with your GP practice today.”
For more information, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or visit Immunisation Scotland.