Three thousand eligible for flu jab in Isles

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As Scottish Flu Awareness Week launches this week it’s been revealed that over 43 per cent of people aged under 65 in the Western Isles area who are entitled to get the flu jab didn’t take up the offer last year.

Health professionals across the country will be urging people in the ‘at risk’ groups to get their annual flu jab as part of Scottish Flu Awareness Week.

The week-long campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of the flu jab and to encourage the estimated 1,409 people (or 43.4 per cent of the total ‘at risk’ group) living in the NHS Western Isles board area who didn’t get the vaccination last year, to get it as early as possible this year. These figures don’t include people over 65 who are also eligible for free flu jab.

The key target groups that are eligible for the jab are: people 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, unpaid carers of any age and NHS workers who deal directly with patients.

Flu is a serious illness and the vaccination is the most effective protection from it, including the swine flu virus. People in the ‘at-risk’ groups can be hit harder with the flu and suffer more complications.

Dr Louise Scott, GP Health Protection Team and Flu Immunisation Co-ordinator for the 2011/12 season, Flu Immunisation Co-ordinator at NHS Western Isles, said: “Flu strikes suddenly and can take immediate and severe effect. If you are in one of the at-risk groups, then the impact of flu can be even more serious, with symptoms hitting you harder and lasting longer. You could end up in hospital, or contract pneumonia or bronchitis.

“I strongly urge anyone who is in one of the at-risk groups to make an appointment with their GP to get the free jab. It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated but will give you protection against the flu for around a year. Don’t make the mistake that you think you’re immune, nobody is and the potential consequences mean it’s not worth the risk.”

This year’s flu vaccine protects against three types of flu including the swine flu strain, which is still circulating. 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 the immunisation programme.