A MAJOR push is underway to promote uptake of flu vaccinations in the region – with social care staff now included in the programme for the first time.
This year’s programme sees social care staff joining NHS staff in being provided with this year’s flu vaccine, which has now arrived in Dumfries and Galloway.
But those members of the public who are also eligible to receive the free vaccination are being urged to trust the facts, and to help protect not just themselves but also their loved one and their communities by taking up the opportunity.
Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Nigel Calvert notes that getting vaccinated isn’t just about protecting yourself; being immunised against strains of the flu helps stop it spreading, and means that our communities and loved ones are much less likely to be exposed to the dangers it can pose.
Dr Calvert said: “It’s important to remember that people aged 65 and over, and people who have long term conditions such as heart problems, diabetes and asthma how important it is to take up the offer of a flu vaccine themselves.
“Children are also, as usual, being offered the nasal vaccine once vaccinations have taken place in schools as a priority. The vaccines provide good cover against the types of influenza virus that are likely to be circulating so it is well worth getting immunised.”
The largest decline in uptake of the vaccine last year was amongst people with these conditions, yet they are at greater risk of the dangers of flu. And every year in Scotland, two thirds of people who end up in intensive care because of flu have a health condition.
The flu is so much worse than a bad cold: people with a health condition are 18 times more likely to die from flu than those without a health condition.
Dr Jim McMenamin leads the seasonal flu immunisation programme at Health Protection Scotland, and he said: “We can’t emphasise enough that the facts show the flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu and its complications.
“Getting the vaccine only takes a few minutes and helps to provide protection from flu for around a year. Contact your GP practice now, and get protected for winter.”
This year marks the start of change in responsibility for delivery of free flu vaccinations.
The new national GMS contract agreed by GPs means that responsibility for providing flu vaccinations is shifting from GP practices and their staff and instead being taken on by health and social care partnerships.
A Vaccination Transformation Programme has been established as part of the region’s Primary Care Transformation Programme.
A vaccination team has been recruited, and this year is working with nine GP practices in the region – set to expand to include all practices by 2021.
To find out more about flu vaccinations, and how to obtain your free vaccination, visit https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/immunisation/vaccines/flu-vaccine#further-information