MP JO SWINSON is urging everyone ‘at risk’ to make sure they receive their free seasonal flu vaccine this winter.
Ms Swinson, the LibDem representative for East Dunbartonshire, has renewed calls for swift vaccinations after the Health Protection Agency warned the flu season could arrive earlier than usual this year.
She said: “The seasonal flu vaccination is vital to help protect those people who are more susceptible to serious complications from flu.
“With winter setting in, now is the time to go and get your annual flu jab to avoid what can sometimes be a nasty and debilitating illness.
“I would encourage East Dunbartonshire residents who are at greater risk from flu to go and visit their local doctor’s surgery for more details.”
Ms Swinson was speaking after she received a complimentary jab during Westminster Flu Day earlier this month.
The parliamentary clinic, staged in the House of Commons, had been sponsored by the UK Vaccine Industry Group in a bid to promote awareness to those who are most vulnerable.
Free jabs are available to pregnant women, NHS healthcare staff, unpaid carers, anyone over 65 and those with a medical condition which places them ‘at risk’.
Those who qualify as ‘at risk’ include people with asthma, diabetes, bronchitis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney failure, liver problems such as cirrhosis or hepatitis and those with HIV.
Sir Harry Burns, chief medical officer for Scotland, said: “Individuals with pre-existing illnesses are more likely to suffer serious complications if they contract flu so it’s important to get the vaccine.
“Vaccination is the most important way for those at greater risk to protect themselves from flu.”
Flu is still one of the leading causes of hospitalisation and mortality in the UK. There have been on average 500 deaths each winter which may be attributable to influenza and thousands more suffer severe complications.
People vaccinated last year may not be protected against this year’s viruses so it is important to get yearly jabs. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine will protect against three strains of the flu virus including swine flu
“It only takes a minute to get the flu jab but this will protect you for 12 months.”
The public have been urged not to take the disease lightly, especially as there are many vulnerable people at serious risk of life-threatening complications associated with flu.
For further information on the seasonal flu campaign, visit www.immunisationscotland.org.uk. If you are unsure if you are eligible for the jab contact NHS Inform on 0800 224488.