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Those eligible urged to act early
People eligible for the flu vaccine are being urged to act early and get protected ahead of winter, as the national flu vaccination programme gets underway.
With the number of reported cases of flu more than doubling last winter, the Health Secretary outlined that for those at risk, flu can be serious and result in complications that can lead to hospitalisation.
The flu vaccine remains the best defence against flu, and will be offered to around 2.5 million people this year, including those with health conditions, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and children aged 2-11.
NHS Scotland workers and carers are also offered the vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus to the vulnerable.
With the flu vaccine available from GP practices from this week, the advice for those eligible is to make the vaccination a priority to ensure they're protected ahead of winter.
Figures show that on average, 1,918 people have been hospitalised for flu or its complications each year in Scotland.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
"This year we want to ensure as many people as possible are protected from flu ahead of winter hitting.
"The vaccine is safe, effective, and remains the best protection against the flu virus. It is important to stress that the flu vaccine offered to those ages 65-74 this winter still provides protection.
"Last winter was a particularly bad year for flu, with a rise in the number of cases and hospitalisations.
"Flu can be extremely serious for those who are vulnerable, and is very infectious. We can best protect the people of Scotland by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated early. Not only will you protect yourself, but you'll also be playing a part in helping stop the spread of the virus this winter."
For further information visit readyforflu.scot or phone NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.
The following groups are eligible for the flu vaccine:
- Those aged 65 years of age and over
- Those over 6 months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an 'at risk' group such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases, or autoimmune disorders.
- NHS Scotland workers
- Unpaid carers
- Pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions)
- Children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds and not yet in school will be vaccinated at their GP practice. 5-11 year olds will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term.