Health staff and individuals with underlying health conditions are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination.
More than two million Scots are being offered the flu vaccine as part of the country’s vaccination programme, to ensure that people who need it most are protected.
Those who can be hit the hardest by flu include people with chronic conditions such as emphysema, asthma, heart problems, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney or liver disease, and women who are pregnant. They can all suffer more serious complications, even if they are generally fit and healthy. These groups can receive the vaccine for free at their local GP surgery.
Staff working for NHS Western Isles are also being offered the vaccine to help protect patients. Earlier this week, Dr Neil Galbraith, chairman of NHS Western Isles, received his injection from chief executive Gordon Jamieson, a former nurse, as part of the programme to immunise as many staff as possible.
In a message to those who have still not had their injection, Dr Galbraith said: “It’s important to have the flu vaccine every year because the virus, as we know, mutates and protection against the flu has to be renewed every year.
“It’s critical for the staff in the NHS who are dealing with patients and it’s equally important for the public in general to secure similar protection.”
He added: “The chief executive has lost none of his talents as a nurse in that it was painless as is the experience of all those who receive the injection.”
Dr Maggie Watts, Director of Public Health, NHS Western Isles said: “It is important that people who are eligible for the flu vaccination make an appointment with their GP practice as soon as possible, to protect their health.
“Flu is a serious illness and each year the winter months present an increase in the number of cases requiring hospital treatment. Flu can cause severe health complications and the best way to protect yourself and help prevent spread of the virus is to get vaccinated.
“It only takes a few minutes and even if you were immunised against flu last winter it is important to receive the vaccine again, as the viruses change each season.”
Those who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated should make an appointment with their GP surgery as soon as possible.
If you would like to find out more information about the flu vaccine, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or log on to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk.
Pictured: Neil Galbraith receiving his annual flu vaccine this week from Gordon Jamieson.