Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer has issued a call for people at risk of flu to get their vaccine as early as possible this year.
The latest uptake figures for Dumfries & Galloway highlighted that under half (44 per cent) of people who are at risk from flu due to an underlying health condition have taken up the offer of the free vaccine since the start of the national flu immunisation programme in October 2016.
The latest uptake figures also highlight that almost half (43 per cent) of pregnant women not in at risk groups and almost three quarters (74 per cent) of those over the age of 65 in Dumfries & Galloway have received their flu vaccination.
The flu vaccination is being administered by GP practices until the end of March 2017 as part of the programme.
Dr Gregor Smith cautioned against complacency as traditionally the number of cases of flu can increase during January and February. Highlighting that flu is very infections and can be serious; he urged those with health conditions such as heart problems, asthma or diabetes to make getting the flu vaccine a priority.
Statistics show that over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related to, flu.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Gregor Smith, said: “Cases of flu peak in the winter and more are likely to be seen over the coming weeks so it’s important that people make an appointment with their GP practice as soon as they can. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine and not had it yet, definitely do so, it only takes a few minutes and can protect for up to a year so really is the best defence against flu.
“People with underlying health conditions are extremely vulnerable to viruses such as flu so that’s why it’s so important that they get the vaccine now as the health complications can be serious and in some cases people end up in hospital.
“Pregnant women and people over 65 are also eligible for the vaccine as they are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill should they catch flu.”
Dr Nigel Calvert, Flu-Immunisation Co-ordinator, NHS Dumfries & Galloway said: “If you have a health condition it’s so important that you receive the vaccine as you may be at higher risk of complications from flu.
“Anyone who is eligible should make an appointment with their GP practice to get their vaccine as soon as possible, it doesn’t take long and provides protection for up to a year.”