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Caithness News Bulletins October 2005

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Free Flu Jab Campaign For Elderely And At Risk Groups
The Scottish Executive annual winter flu and pneumococcal immunisation campaign is underway with an appeal to everyone aged 65 or over and other vulnerable groups to get vaccinated as a matter of priority.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns said:
"Flu is highly infectious and is much more common in the winter months. We are launching our annual flu immunisation campaign today to urge people at risk of complications if they catch flu to get their vaccine before winter starts.

"Flu can pose serious implications for people with certain illnesses and for those aged over 65. The vast majority of deaths that occur as a result of flu happen in the over-65s. That is why it is so important that older people get vaccinated before winter begins.

"The other groups most at risk of complications from flu are adults and children with diabetes, asthma and chronic medical conditions. These people cannot fight flu as effectively and flu for them could lead to more serious illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia, if they are not protected. These groups should make it a priority to visit their GP and arrange for a free flu jab.

"I would urge people if they know a family member or a friend who falls into one of these 'at risk' groups who are most susceptible to flu complications, to encourage them to get their flu jab now. The only way people can protect themselves from flu is to get their vaccine.

"Healthcare workers may also be at risk of getting flu as they will be working closely with those who have the infection. They should get their jab to prevent the spread of flu and protect patients they are caring for.

"Our message is don't let the bug bite. People at risk of complications from catching flu should be prudent and get their vaccine as matter of urgency."

Flu is a highly infectious virus caused by influenza viruses. Flu is most common during the winter months. Pneumoccoccal disease is the term used to describe a range of illnesses such as pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. Both infections can be spread by coughs, sneezes and close contact between people.

People with diabetes, asthma and chronic medical conditions have a high risk of complications from flu, and are the target groups for the immunisation campaign. For the first time, individuals with chronic liver disease are now included in the clinical at risk group.

The Executive aims to ensure a 70 per cent uptake amongst people aged 65 or over and a 60 per cent uptake for the 'at risk' clinical groups.

If you are over 65 or in one of the at risk group you should contact your doctor to get the Free jab.