Parents across the Lothians have been urged to get their 2 – 5 year old children vaccinated against flu.
Nearly two fifths (39 per cent) of eligible 2-5 year olds are ready to fight flu, having already received their nasal vaccination.
However the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland has encouraged all parents to consider making an appointment with their GP practice to get their 2-5 year old vaccinated, highlighting that the risk of hospitalisation is reduced in those children that receive the vaccine.
Latest uptake figures for the area also revealed that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of those aged 65 or over, just over a third (36 per cent) and almost a third (31 percent) of those in at risk groups have been vaccinated against flu since the national immunisation programme got underway in October 2016.
This year, the free flu vaccine is being offered to around 2 million people in Scotland – including those with heart disease, those with health conditions which can make them more vulnerable to flu such as diabetes, asthma and bronchitis, pregnant women and children aged 2-5.
Dr Gregor Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said: “Recent uptake figures highlight that there are thousands of those eligible yet to take up the offer of the free flu vaccine.
“Flu is very infectious and can cause serious complications for those who are most vulnerable, which is why it’s so important to consider getting vaccinated.
“Last year, 43 per cent of children aged 2-5 in Scotland didn’t receive the vaccine.
“This year, we want to make sure as many children in Scotland are protected so would urge parents who have not yet made an appointment with their GP practice to make it a priority.
“The nasal vaccine for children only takes a few minutes, can protect for up to a year and reduces the chance of the infectious virus being spread to those who are vulnerable.”
Dr Lorna Willocks, Consultant in Public Health, NHS Lothian, said: “Flu can affect children as well as adults and is an unpleasant illness which can be serious. If you have a child aged between two and five years old, we strongly recommend that they get the flu vaccine. It is generally given as a nasal spray, which is quick and painless and can help protect your child this winter.”
“Getting the vaccine only takes a few minutes and will help to provide them with protection for around a year.”
To find out more about the flu vaccine and its benefits, visit immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.