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Health / Autumn and winter Covid and flu vaccination programme underway

THE NATIONAL autumn/winter vaccination programme for flu and Covid is now underway in Shetland, with the main programme running until mid-December.

Due to the newly identified Covid variant BA.2.86, people aged 75 and over, those who have weakened immune systems and people who live in care homes will now be amongst the first to be invited for flu and Covid vaccination.

These groups of people were initially due to receive their vaccinations from mid-October, but as a precautionary measure those at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from flu and Covid have now been brought forward. 

School flu clinics have also started and will shortly be followed by flu clinics for pre-school children.

Health and social care workers are also being offered their flu and Covid vaccinations. The community will be informed when other groups start to be called. 

People in Shetland who are eligible for flu and/or Covid vaccinations may be contacted by letter or via telephone or potentially, text or email if they have opted in for this service.

Later in the programme, people will be able to use the booking portal to book and change appointments. There is also an option to phone the national helpline or the local vaccination team.

Because there is no longer a vaccination centre at Gilbertson Park games hall, clinics will run in a variety of healthcare settings along with schools and care homes.

  • Individuals who cannot travel to a clinic will be given their vaccinations at home.
  • People living in Unst, Yell and Whalsay, and those registered with the Hillswick, Walls and Bixter practices, will be invited to attend clinics at their own health centre.
  • People registered with Brae, Scalloway and Levenwick may be invited to their health centre or to a Lerwick clinic.
  • Lerwick residents will be invited to a Lerwick clinic.
  • Some individuals may be asked to come to clinics at the Gilbert Bain Hospital. 

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 As in previous years, walk-in appointments will be available in some clinics for those who are eligible for the vaccinations, these will be publicised later in the programme.

NHS Shetland director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said: “Covid and flu vaccination is just as important now as it was during the pandemic as the vaccines help protect the most vulnerable people from serious illness, which can lead to hospital admission and result in long term problems.

“Many people who are at risk of serious illness due to flu are used to having a flu vaccine every year so they can be protected against the different flu strains that circulate each winter.

“With the Covid vaccines, we know that the protection declines over time, especially in older people and those with weakened immune systems. This is why booster doses are being offered to people who are most at risk of serious illness.

“When you receive or make an appointment, please make sure you know where the venue is, as it may be different from previous years. Information about the vaccines, including patient information leaflets in a range of formats and languages, is available on the NHS Inform website.

“We also have printed copies of leaflets available in a number of settings, or they can be sent out on request by contacting the vaccination team on shet.vaccination-team@nhs.scot.”

The people eligible for both flu and Covid-19 vaccines this winter include: 

  • Frontline health and social care workers  
  • Residents and staff in care homes for older adults  
  • People aged 65 and over 
  • People aged six months to 64 years of age who are at higher clinical risk from flu and Covid -19  
  • Pregnant women  
  • Unpaid carers aged 16-64  
  • Household contacts of those with a weakened immune system (aged 12-64) 

The people eligible for just flu vaccine (if not in one of the above groups) include: 

  •  People aged 50 years and over 
  • Children aged 2-5, and those in primary and secondary school 
  • People aged 18-49 with an eligible flu health condition 
  • Teachers and support staff (‘pupil facing’) 

For more information, contact the vaccination team via telephone on 01595 743319 (leave a message) or by email at shet.vaccination-team@nhs.scot.

Further advice is also available on the NHS Inform website.

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