Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon launched the winter flu jab campaign along side ‘miracle mum’ Lynsey Frew, who caught flu while pregnant last year and became seriously ill.
The vaccine, which will give protection against three strains of influenza, including H1N1, is now available from GP practices across Scotland.
The following groups will be eligible for this season’s vaccine:
* People with a existing medical condition
* Pregnant women
* People aged 65 years of age and over
* Frontline NHS staff
* Unpaid carers, including young carers
Ms Sturgeon said: “For those at risk, the complications of seasonal flu can be deadly. The only way to protect yourself is to get the jag and the earlier the better as this will stop flu from spreading to others who might be at risk.
“It is very important that pregnant women come forward for the jag. We know they are more likely to suffer serious complications if they catch flu because of changes to their immune system. So if you’re pregnant, protect yourself and your baby from flu by getting the jag.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and midwives across the country will be working to ensure that all pregnant women know about the dangers of flu and go to their GP to get vaccinated.
“Only an estimated 26 per cent of NHS frontline staff were vaccinated during last year’s flu season. We want to see many more of our nurses, doctors and midwives come forward this year, to protect themselves and their patients.
“Last year more people than ever before were vaccinated in Scotland but tragically we know that 63 people died in hospital with flu – many more are likely to have died in the community. If you know someone who is at risk please encourage them to get the vaccination as soon as possible to protect themselves.”
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 cases of flu this winter.