Latest statistics shows that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has already exceeded a Scottish Government target on vaccinating people over the age of 65 against influenza.
Nearly 73% over 65s in NHSGGC area have opted to get their free flu jab, ahead of the 70% national target.
One of Glasgow’s most senior public health consultants is still urging people to accept flu protection by making arrangements to get the jab urgently.
Dr Syed Ahmed, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The fact that nearly 73% of over 65 people have already armed themselves with the Flu vaccination really is excellent news but for those over 65s and others who have not yet had the jab I would urge them to do so as soon as they can. The uptake rate among those under 65 and in “at risk groups” remains low at 46% and we really want to see these individuals take up their free flu jab.”
Dr Ahmed also said it was important to get flu protection in light of the fact that the number of reported flu cases has also increased over the last couple of weeks and look set to increase further. He said: “Reports from England and elsewhere in Europe suggest an increasing number of flu outbreaks caused by the flu strain that caused a severe epidemic and tragically killed six children in Australia, so protecting yourself through the jab is a very sensible measure in protecting yourself.
“Flu season usually lasts up to the end of March, so it is not too late to get this year’s flu vaccine.”
For people who are in generally good health, flu is a self limiting illness although it is much more severe than the common cold. However, for those who are ‘at risk’ and older people, flu can lead to serious complications. These people cannot fight flu as effectively so it is vital that they contact their GP now and arrange for a free flu jab.
If you have a family member or friend who falls into one of these ‘at risk’ groups please encourage them to get their flu jab.
Flu vaccinations are still available for people over 65, and other under 65 people in "at risk groups", through your local GP practice.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible, please contact your GP surgery and they would be able to clarify this for you.
Notes to editor
The Flu vaccine is offered every year to all people aged 65 and over and also those aged six months or over in the clinical “at risk groups”. Clinical risk groups include those with chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and liver disease.
Around 10 to 15 per cent of the UK population is affected by flu every year. The virus changes every year so it is necessary for people to have a repeat vaccination every year to provide protection against infection.
Flu is highly infectious and spreads rapidly by coughs, sneezes and touching people who are already carrying the virus.
Flu symptoms are a high fever, shivers, headache, aching body and extreme tiredness. A dry cough, sore throat and stuffy nose are also common symptoms and can last about a week.
The vaccination gives 70-80% protection against infection with flu virus strains that closely match those in the vaccine and lasts for about one year - hence the reason why annual vaccination is required to maintain ongoing protection.
Anyone catching the flu should take painkillers like paracetamol or aspirin to relieve headache and muscle pain, and reduce temperature.
Staying at home, keeping warm, resting and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic liquids will help replace lost fluid and aid recovery more quickly.
Anyone living alone should tell a friend or neighbour they are ill so they have someone checking on them and helping with essential shopping.
Images of Dr Syed Ahmed, Consultant in Public Health Medicine are available at www.nhsggc.org.uk <http://www.nhsggc.org.uk>.