This year’s winter flu and Covid-19 boosters in Scotland will focus on “protecting those at highest risk of becoming seriously ill”, a public health body has said.
Public Health Scotland (PHS), in conjunction with the Scottish Government, revealed its winter vaccination programme on Tuesday.
As part of this year’s programme, healthy under-65s will no longer routinely be offered a Covid-19 booster jag – whereas last year, all people over 50 were given the option.
The decision follows advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
PHS said that both flu and Covid-19 vaccines will be administered at the same time as and when possible – a method the JCVI has said is safe.
Everyone over 50 and those with certain conditions will be offered a flu vaccination, and people between 50 and 64 with no underlying health conditions are being called forward for appointments starting from September 4.
The expansion of the flu programme to include secondary school pupils will also continue this winter, with eligible groups being: all school-age pupils, children aged between two and five; and children aged six months to under two years at risk.
Invitations for all other priority groups receiving both flu and Covid-19 vaccines will follow as the programme progresses, with people in care homes and those aged 75 and over to receive invitations starting from mid-October.
The JCVI advised that protection is highest in the three months following vaccination, meaning those at the highest risk of Covid-19 will be protected across the height of winter and into the new year.
Public health minister Jenni Minto said: “Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and the NHS from both Covid-19 and flu viruses, and I encourage all those eligible to take up their invitations when they are offered.”
Dr Claire Cameron, consultant in Health Protection at PHS said: “Getting vaccinated is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself against flu and Covid-19 this winter.
“This year’s programme focuses on protecting those who are at highest risk. One of the ways we’re doing this is by offering vaccination to people who are most vulnerable to illness later in the programme to ensure they have maximum protection in the peak of winter.
“Scotland’s vaccination programme has always offered vaccinations in the safest and most effective ways possible. We know that administration of both vaccines together is a safe, efficient way to deliver increased protection when it’s most needed.
“Last year, over 89% of flu and Covid-19 vaccines were administered at the same time.”
NHS Scotland will contact people with details of their appointment, or may contact them prompting them to book.
Email, text messages, or by post in a white envelope with NHS Scotland’s branding will be sent depending on the individual’s preferred communication method.