With reports of an increase in H1N1 cases emerging in
Scotland, doctors today urged patients who are eligible for the winter flu
vaccination to contact their GP practice.
The vaccine programme continues throughout the winter months
for those people most at risk from the flu bug.
By having the vaccination, patients aged over 65 and those
under 65 'at risk' can protect themselves from the effects of flu, and in doing
so, reduce winter pressure on Scotland's busy hospitals. Those 'at risk'
include people with a chronic heart or chest complaint such as asthma or
The H1N1 virus (swine flu) will be one of the main strains
of seasonal flu this winter, and we are already seeing reports of increasing
numbers of cases. This year's vaccination includes protection against the H1N1
strain of flu. Also, this year, it is recommended that pregnant women not in
the high-risk groups who have not previously been vaccinated against H1N1 flu
have the seasonal flu jab.
Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA's Scottish General
Practitioners Committee, said:
"For most of us, flu makes us feel miserable, but doesn't
actually pose any serious risks to our health. Unfortunately, for the more
vulnerable, it can cause serious complications and even lead to death. It is
important that the flu campaign reaches as many vulnerable and 'at-risk' people
as possible because it is inevitable that there will be more cases of flu this
winter. The vaccination, however, can reduce both the likelihood of getting flu
and the severity of the illness of those unfortunate enough to catch it.
"GPs are prepared for this winter's battle against the flu
bug. Across the country, surgeries have put in place the systems needed to
reach and protect as many older and at risk Scots as possible.
"Flu can be very serious for those at risk, so take up
your GP's offer of a vaccination and be protected this winter."