*Over 49 per cent of people in the Lothians who suffer from underlying health conditions have yet to receive the free flu vaccine, as it is revealed that GP consultations for flu increased during December.
Health professionals across the country are reminding people who are â€˜at riskâ€™ that as the virus is now widely circulating they should get their annual flu vaccine as soon as possible.Â People with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, heart problems, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, lowered immunities and women who are pregnant, can be hit harder by flu and suffer more serious complications, even if they are generally fit and healthy. These groups are eligible to receive the vaccine free at their local GP surgery.
The figures, revealed today, also highlight that 51 per cent of pregnant women are still to receive the flu vaccine. Being pregnant means youâ€™re at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill from flu because a womanâ€™s immune system changes to help them cope with pregnancy. At worst, you could experience premature labour or miscarriage.
Dr Lorna Willocks, Flu Immunisation Co-ordinator at NHS Lothians, said,Â â€œThe flu virus circulates easier in low temperatures and as winter progresses flu viruses are continuing to spread across Scotland. It is vital that those who are eligible make an appointment to get the vaccination as soon as possible, and help start the New Year in good health. 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.â€
Each season there is a race against time to help protect people from flu before there is significant spread of flu in the community.Â The vaccine takes 10-14 days to work and should protect you from flu for a year. It is free for all those who have underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and those who are 65 or older. Those who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated should make an appointment with their GP surgery as soon as possible as the offer expires in March.
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.
*Vaccine uptake figures are average figures provided by GP practices who have submitted data up to week one of 2015.
Â The flu vaccination is available for free to:
- People aged 65 and over.
- Those under 65 with an underlying condition that puts them at greater risk.
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Unpaid carers
- Healthcare workers