D&G Health Teams Make Plans to Tackle Next Flu Season  

A VERY demanding flu season is drawing to an end in Dumfries and Galloway, but measures are already being put in place to build a stronger defence next winter.

New vaccines are set to be employed next year – with plans being developed to increase an already high and sometimes nation-leading uptake of immunisations amid local at-risk groups.

Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Nigel Calvert said: “We’ve just been through a tough flu season, but it would have been even more challenging if not for the effective vaccines at our disposal and the uptake of free vaccinations among our at-risk groups.
“These include people over 65, schoolchildren, pregnant women, carers and health care staff and people with chronic health conditions.
“But despite success in a number of areas, more than half the people in Dumfries and Galloway eligible for vaccination did not take up the chance of free vaccinations.
“Early indications are that we need to focus more on people with chronic illnesses, such as people with liver conditions.”
He added: “Looking ahead to next winter, we want to really drive up the numbers of people who are being immunised as this will help protect all the vulnerable people in our communities against a variety of strains.
“And we want people to be immunised early – rather than pursuing vaccinations when the flu strains have already hit and are in full effect.”

Dumfries and Galloway had the highest percentage of school pupils being vaccinated in Scotland, at 79.9 per cent – or 8577 pupils out of a total 10,734.

There was a good uptake of free vaccinations among diabetics and also among pregnant women, thanks to work led by maternity staff, while uptake among Over 65s rose to 75.9 per cent.

Care homes were hit by the flu outbreak as well as cottage hospitals, with older buildings posing more of a challenge due to room design.

Outbreaks within the community had a big impact on the new £213 million Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary (DGRI), at any one time having to accommodate the equivalent of an entire ward of 28 people who had been admitted because of the flu.

However, the single-patient room model within the hospital is proving successful in preventing spread.

Infection Control Manager Elaine Ross said: “We faced challenges in the new hospital with the number of admissions, but we believe it would have been that much more difficult if not for our new model of all-single rooms.”

Details on opportunities for vaccinations will be appearing on the approach to next winter, as part of a campaign encouraging a high uptake of free vaccinations.


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