Everyone in Shetland aged 65 and over, along with younger people considered to be at high risk if they catch flu, is being urged to take up the offer of a free seasonal flu jab.
Each of the GP practices in Shetland will contact their patients to offer the vaccination. As in previous years, many practices will be running special flu vaccination clinics.
Lerwick Health Centre patients who are eligible for the vaccination will be invited to attend one of the “flu fairs” at Clickimin Leisure Centre on Tuesday 12th October and Tuesday 2nd November.
If anyone is invited to one of the flu fairs but cannot make it, they are asked to contact Lerwick Health Centre to make other arrangements.
Scalloway Health Centre and Brae Health Centre are also holding drop-in clinics for their patients. People are asked to contact their own health centres with any questions about the vaccination campaign, appointments and clinics.
Public health medicine consultant Susan Laidlaw said: “Each year there are slightly different strains of seasonal (winter) flu circulating in the community; this is why a new vaccine has to be given each year.
“The vaccine helps to protect people who are more vulnerable to flu and the complications of flu, including people over 65 and those with certain medical conditions.
“This year the jab protects against three types of flu including the Influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) virus. Although the swine flu pandemic is now over, the virus is still around and is expected to be one of the main flu viruses this winter.
“We know that swine flu is a particular risk to pregnant women and so this year, all pregnant women are also being offered the seasonal flu vaccine. I would encourage pregnant women to speak with their midwife or GP about having the flu jab.”
The following groups of people are being advised to have the flu jab this year:
• Everyone aged 65 and over;
• Children over the age of six months and adults with a serious heart or respiratory condition; kidney or liver diseas; diabetes; lowered immunity due to disease or treatment; multiple sclerosis or other conditions of the nervous system or a stroke;
• Unpaid carers;
• People living in care homes;
• Pregnant women, and women who become pregnant between now and March 2011 (if they have not already had the swine flu vaccination).
Further information on the national flu vaccination campaign “Don’t let the flu turn on you” is available at www.immunisationscotland.org.uk
Dr Laidlaw said uptake of seasonal flu vaccine in Shetland was good. Local figures for the past few years showed an uptake of up to 76 per cent, above the national target of 70 per cent. This year the government had increased the target to 75 per cent.
Drop-in clinic dates at the Brae Health Centre: Tuesday 2nd and Thursday 4th November, 1.30pm to 4pm (surnames A-L); Tuesday 9th and Thursday 11th November, 1.30pm to 4pm (surnames M-Z) Scalloway Health Centre: Wednesday 20th October, 2pm to 4pm; Saturday 23rd October, 9.30am to 11am; Wednesday 27th October, 2pm to 4pm; Saturday 30th October, 9.30am to 11am; Wednesday 3rd November, 2pm to 4pm.