Four million people will be offered flu jabs this year in Scotland’s largest ever winter vaccination programme.
The list of people eligible for the free vaccine has been extended including those who are aged 50 and over, school staff and all primary and secondary pupils.
Previously the jab was limited to over-65s, those with specific health conditions, pregnant women, healthcare workers and carers.
The flu vaccination programme will run from this September until March 2022 with those eligible being urged to take up the offer as soon as possible.
Those now eligible for the free flu vaccine:
- those aged 50 and over
- those aged six months to 49 years who have certain underlying health conditions which increase risk
- pregnant women
- children aged two – five (not yet at school)
- health and social care staff
- unpaid and young carers
- all primary and secondary school age children, (in school setting)
- independent NHS contractors, (GP, dental and optometry practices, community pharmacists), laboratory staff (working on Covid-19 testing) including support staff
- teachers, nursery teachers and support staff in close contact with pupils
- prison staff and support staff in close contact with the prison population (delivering direct detention services)
- those in the prison population
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Flu can be extremely serious and is very infectious.
“With Covid-19 still circulating in the community we can best protect the people of Scotland by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated against flu too.
“That’s why this flu season, we are extending the vaccination programme and offering the flu vaccine to around four million people in Scotland.
“This will help to protect those most at risk as well as ease pressure on our National Health Service and social care services. The vaccines are safe and the best way to help protect you, and others, from flu this winter.”
Scotland’s chief medical officer has written to the healthcare professionals who will be delivering the flu vaccine to ensure they are prepared to deliver Scotland’s largest ever flu programme.
Dr Nicola Steedman said: “The public health measures put in place to help fight against Covid-19 meant that the circulation of flu viruses was very low last season.
“As restrictions continue to lift and we get back to living our lives more normally it is important this year, more than ever, that you receive your flu vaccine if you are eligible, and before flu starts to spread widely.
“It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated, and it helps to provide protection from flu for the period of time that flu is likely to be circulating in Scotland.
“The JCVI has also published interim advice on providing a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible in the autumn.
“Any such extension to the vaccine programme would run alongside the vital flu programme, to protect those at risk from flu this winter.
“We will take this into account while we await the final JCVI recommendations. But we urge people not to forget about flu, and to come forward for their flu vaccination this year.”