A VERY busy vaccination season lies ahead in Dumfries and Galloway – as NHS teams prepare to help protect people against flu and COVID this winter.
Vaccinations are being provided to eligible groups through a gradual programme of delivery, with people being asked to wait until it is their turn.
Immunisation Co-ordinator Dr Andrew Rideout said: “Another very ambitious winter flu and COVID vaccination programme is being planned for Dumfries and Galloway.
“Some of the first people who will be receiving flu vaccinations have now started receiving emails, texts or letters, asking them to book their slot through the national portal.
“It’s very important that everyone eligible takes up the opportunity to help protect themselves against flu this winter and cut down on the spread of this virus.
“However, with thousands of people to be vaccinated, it’s very important that everybody waits until it is the time for their group to come forward.
“We know that COVID has not gone away, and both flu and COVID do still pose a risk to health – particularly as we head towards winter.
“The vaccination programmes we have run in the past have been very successful in helping to limit the worst effects of these viruses, and it’s really important that our region maintains a good level of protection.
“So if you’re eligible for either flu or COVID vaccinations, make sure that you take up the chance to increase your body’s defences.”
People aged 50-64 with no underlying health conditions are now being called forward for flu only vaccination appointments, starting from 4 September, along with those in the 18-49 at-risk, flu-only group.
The childhood flu programme is for all children age from 2 upwards. Also eligible are children who are at risk and aged 6 months to under 2 years.
Both flu and COVID-19 vaccines will be offered to people most vulnerable to illness and, where possible, administered at the same time.
Clinical advice and evidence shows that administration of both vaccines together is a safe and efficient way to deliver maximum protection.
For COVID-19, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that protection is highest in the three months following vaccination, so, for those at highest risk, being vaccinated later in the programme provides greater protection over the peak winter period and into the new year.
Invites for those eligible for flu and COVID vaccinations will be starting from 18 September, with groups being called forward in line with national guidance.
People should wait for NHS Scotland to contact them with details of their appointment, or a prompt to book. Depending on their selected communication preferences, this will be by email, text, or by post in a white, NHS Scotland branded envelope, which replaces the blue envelopes used previously.
A graphic has been created which offers people an immediate understanding of the groups which qualify for either flu vaccinations, or both flu or COVID.
Details on the vaccination timelines for all of these groups will gradually be announced as the vaccination programme progresses, with the aim that the majority of vaccinations are carried out by early December.
More information can be found at the website www.nhsinform.scot/wintervaccines and anyone who experiences any problem with this year’s booking system is asked to call the local helpline on 01387 403090 or the national helpline on 0800 030 8013.