Winter vaccination programme now under way
Invitations to book or attend an appointment have already been sent to those eligible for a flu vaccine.
As a precautionary measure, Public Health Scotland (PHS) and the Scottish Government are working closely with Health Boards to consider bringing winter vaccinations forward for those at highest risk of becoming seriously ill from flu and Covid-19. This includes care home residents, over 75s and those with weakened immune systems who were initially set to receive their vaccinations from mid-October.
Vaccination remains the best protection and those eligible are strongly encouraged to take up the offer when it arrives. Viruses are always changing, and annual vaccinations are the best way to stay protected.
Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science at PHS said: “We are continuing to monitor the emergence and prevalence of COVID-19 variants in Scotland through our surveillance programme.
"While we are not concerned about the current levels of Covid-19, the identification of BA.2.86 in Scotland means that we are now working with Health Boards to ensure those most vulnerable to illness are protected this winter.
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness and those eligible are encouraged to book or attend their appointment when invited to do so. Coming forward when called will also help to alleviate pressures on local Health Boards who are working to deliver the winter vaccination programme at pace.”
To prevent the spread of flu and Covid-19, anyone with respiratory symptoms is advised to stay at home and to wash hands regularly.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Gregor Smith added: “Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and the NHS from both Covid-19 and flu viruses, and I encourage everyone to help us maintain the high uptake rates we have seen over the past three years by coming froward for vaccination when they are called.
“Work is ongoing to understand the new Covid-19 variant more fully, however as a precautionary measure vaccination of people at highest risk is being brought forward.”