Half chronically ill have not had flu vaccine, figures reveal

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More than half of people with underlying health conditions are still to get protected from flu, according to new figures released by Scotland’s most senior medical officer.

The figures for Shetland prompted chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns to remind people of the importance of the flu vaccine.

According to the NHS the number yet to be vaccinated includes:

• 56 per cent of people under-65 with underlying health problems such as asthma and diabetes;

• 64 per cent of pregnant women;

• 48 per cent of two and three-year-olds.

These groups can be hit harder with flu and can suffer more serious complications, even if they previously felt fit and healthy.

Sir Harry said: “Flu strikes suddenly and it’s important to be prepared. If you have a long-term medical condition, the best way to protect yourself is to get the vaccine. It is not too late for those who have not received their flu vaccine to do so.

“The flu vaccine only takes a few minutes, but will offer protection for around 12 months.

“It is equally as important to ensure that if your child is invited to get vaccinated against flu, you take up the offer as children are unlikely to have built up immunity from previous infections. In fact, youngsters are two to three times as likely to be ill with flu than adults.

Dr Susan Laidlaw, flu immunisation co-ordinator at NHS Shetland, said: “Flu survives better in a cold environment and flu viruses will circulate across Scotland as we move deeper into winter. People need to be aware that flu is much worse than a bad cold and can make adults and children very unwell.

“If you are in an eligible group then it’s very important to get vaccinated to help protect you from the virus as you can suffer from serious complications if you do catch flu. I would like to urge all remaining local people who are eligible for the flu vaccine to speak with their GP practice to arrange to get their free vaccination.”

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