“Trust the facts”: Flu jab campaign kicks off

Sunday 6th October 2019

People across Scotland are being urged to ‘trust the facts’ and get vaccinated as the flu season approaches.

At-risk groups including young children, the over-65s and people living with chronic health conditions are being targeted by the nationwide campaign.

Recent figures show childhood vaccination rates in Scotland continue to climb even as they drop in England.

Already more than 1.6 million doses of the painless nasal spray vaccine have been given to 2-11 year olds as part of the Scottish childhood immunisation programme.

Although flu rates were low last year the condition can hospitalise children and even prove fatal among older people or people with conditions like lung disease.

In Tayside, 32,000 school pupils will be offered the flu vaccine by school immunisation teams that will visit more than 160 schools in Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross over the next three months.

Nuala Healy, head of screening and immunisation at NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know that misinformation about vaccines online, particularly on social media, can influence the decisions parents make about vaccines. The World Health Organization now lists ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

“That’s why we’re urging parents in this campaign to trust the factual information about vaccines provided by the NHS at flufacts.scot or from your health professional. Flu is unpredictable but highly infectious, and the flu vaccine is the best defence we have against it.”

The British Lung Foundation is calling on people with chronic lung conditions to get the jab.

Just 45% of under-65s with a chronic respiratory condition took up the offer of a free flu vaccine – a 2% decrease on the previous year and well below international targets.

The charity says reversing this decline will prevent deaths that occur over the cold months.

Forfar resident Ian Baxter lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a type of progressive lung condition that causes problems breathing.

“I’ve had the flu vaccination every year since I was diagnosed with COPD back in 2004,” he said.

“Getting the flu would be such a bad thing. The thought of it developing into a chest infection and having to fight it off is a big fear for me – it would be really hard for me to bounce back with my condition.”

Meanwhile, staff at Ninewells hospital in Dundee have been getting their jabs – with more than 200 workers attending the first immunisation clinic.

Public health consultant Dr Daniel Chandler explained: “Healthcare workers have a higher risk of flu compared to the general public, with up to one in four likely to become infected during a mild flu season, and more than two thirds of people with flu may not have any symptoms but could still pass it on to others.”