Concern over flu vaccine uptake by ‘at risk’ groups

Scotland's deputy chief medical officer is urging more people to get a flu jab.
Scotland's deputy chief medical officer is urging more people to get a flu jab.
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Three out of five people in Lanarkshire who are at risk from flu due to an underlying health condition haven’t had the vaccine.

Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer is urging them to get protected as soon as possible.

The latest uptake figures for Lanarkshire highlighted that just 41 per cent of people who have underlying health conditions 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 just under half (47 per cent) of pregnant women not in at risk groups and almost three quarters (69 percent) of those over the age of 65 in Lanarkshire have received their flu vaccination.

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.

Dr Smith said: “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 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 David Cromie, flu-immunisation co-ordinator for NHS Lanarkshire, added: “If you have a health condition it’s so important you receive the vaccine as you are at higher risk of complications from flu.

“Anyone who is eligible should make an appointment with their GP to get their vaccine as soon as possible, it doesn’t take long and provides protection for up to a year.”

The flu vaccination is being administered by GP practices until the end of March.

Statistics show that over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related to, flu.