WINTER weather is setting in which means flu season has once again arrived in East Dunbartonshire.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that flu is just a bad cold – the infectious virus can, in serious cases, bring on pneumonia or other infections which can even prove fatal to those most vulnerable.
That’s why everybody in Scotland in certain ‘at-risk’ groups can take advantage of a free flu jab to help keep them healthy through the New Year and beyond.
The vaccine is available from October through to the end of March, but it’s never too soon to get vaccinated against the bug – which can be spread through the air by coughs and sneezes or via contaminated surfaces.
Those who qualify for the free vaccine include those over 65-years-of-age, people with heart or lung problems, or those with a number of underlying conditions – including kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, liver problems, diabetes or HIV infection.
Unpaid carers, pregnant women and health staff can also get the vaccination, which only takes a few minutes to administer, for free.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Flu is a serious illness and a flu vaccine is the only way to be protected. The vaccine is safe, quick and for those most at risk, free from the GP. Getting the jag now will protect you over the winter and stop flu spreading to others.
“The at risk groups are those most likely to suffer serious consequences of flu. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer serious complications if they catch flu, so they can protect themselves and their unborn baby by getting the jag. Carers also play a very important role in society and should get the jag. People over 65 will get a letter from the GP inviting them to get the vaccine.
“Only around 30 per cent of NHS frontline staff got the vaccine last year, and I want to see many more of our nurses, doctors and midwives come forward. We have asked health boards to up their game and help more staff get vaccinated to protect themselves and patients.”
The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and should protect you from flu for around a year. You have to get vaccinated annually, because the virus changes constantly and immunity reduces over time.
Also, it’s important to realise that the flu vaccine does not contain a live virus. This means the vaccine can’t give you flu, but it can stop you catching it.
For more information, see www.immunisationscotland.org.uk, or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.
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