National childhood flu immunisation programme gets underway
Parents are being encouraged to join the fight against flu this winter, by ensuring children aged 2 -5 get their flu vaccination.
With health professionals warning there is potential for this year's flu season to be serious, GP practices across Scotland will be providing the free nasal vaccine in a bid to ensure young children are protected.
Over 150,000 children aged 2-5 are eligible and latest findings from Scotland provide evidence that the nasal flu vaccine has reduced the risk of hospitalisation in those who are vaccinated.
To mark the start of the national childhood flu immunisation programme, Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell joined two year old Lilah McLucas from Edinburgh at her flu vaccination appointment, and encouraged parents not to delay in making an appointment with their own GP.
The Minister expressed her hope that more parents will consider getting their child vaccinated this flu season, as figures reveal 43 per cent of 2-5 year old children in Scotland didn't receive their flu vaccine last year1.
To date, the vaccine has already been given to over 850,000 2-11 year olds in Scotland as part of the Scottish childhood flu immunisation programme which was introduced in 2013.
The programme is expected to eventually prevent an estimated 200 deaths a year and 1,100 hospitalisations from flu.
Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell said:
"The message we want to get out today is that the nasal flu vaccine simply provides the best defence against flu.
"Every year in Scotland, children are hospitalised for treatment of flu and its complications. It can hit even the healthiest children hard, so its vital parents consider getting their child vaccinated before winter sets in as the virus spreads more easily when temperatures are low.
"It's encouraging that evidence shows the risk of hospitalisation is reduced amongst those children who are vaccinated. Not only is the child protected, but it also reduces the risk of the infectious virus being spread to others who may be more vulnerable.
"For this reason, I hope we see uptake of the flu vaccine rise this year. We want to ensure every 2-5 year old is prepared and ready to fight flu."
Make it a priority and book a flu vaccination appointment with your GP practice today. To find out more about the childhood flu vaccine and its benefits, visit immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.
1 Source: Vaccine uptake estimates to week 13, 2015-16 by NHS Board, Health Protection Scotland