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Health / Flu jabs available from next week

IT IS one week today until national seasonal flu immunisation campaign starts.

There have been reports nationally of an “unprecedented demand” in flu jabs this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but a spokesperson for NHS Shetland said there has been no significant rise in the number of local people making appointments for the immunisation.

As in previous years people in Shetland aged 65 and over, along with pregnant women, other younger people considered to be at high risk if they catch flu and unpaid carers, are all being urged to take up the offer of a free seasonal flu jab from 1 October onwards.

All pre-school children aged 2 to 5 years and all primary school aged children are also offered the vaccination, as are healthcare workers.

This year the programme has been extended to include all those who live in a household with someone who was/is shielding, all those aged 55-64 (from November) and social care workers who deliver direct personal care.

For most of the eligible groups, the vaccinations will be delivered by GP practices.

Patients will generally be invited in the same way as usual, which varies by practice, but may be a personal letter, a phone call or through local publicity.

People are asked to look out for these invites and then contact your practice to make an appointment. If you have not heard or seen anything from your local practice by mid-October, then contact them directly.

Consultant in public health medicine Dr Susan Laidlaw said: “The flu vaccination programme this year is more complex and challenging than usual, both because new groups have been added and because of the additional measures that have to be taken because of Covid-19.

“For example there will be no drop in clinics this year, people will need to have an appointment to get their vaccination.

“Despite the challenges it is really important that people get their flu jab this year especially and we will be doing all we can to increase the uptake in Shetland and protect the most vulnerable groups in our community.”