Coronavirus in Scotland: Scottish government to vaccinate extra 800,000 people against seasonal flu

Interim Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith announced the decision to vaccinate two million Scots.

The Scottish government will make a further 800,000 Scots eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine later this year, the Interim Chief Medical Officer has announced.

Speaking at the First Minister’s daily press briefing this afternoon, Dr Gregor Smith said social care workers, people over 55, and household members of those who are shielding will all be put on the extended list.

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“This will be more important than ever this year in light of the covid 19 pandemic for this year's vaccination programme,” he said.

The Scottish government will make a further 800,000 Scots eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine later this year, the Interim Chief Medical Officer has announced. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

“As well as considering those who are most at risk from the seasonal flu, we must also consider who would be most at risk from concurrent infection with both COVID-19 and flu together.

“In total,” he explained, “we are aiming to vaccinate over 2 million people, which is an increase of 800,000 vaccines from last year's programme.”

Groups who will continue to be eligible for the free flu vaccine include: those aged 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, children aged between two and five, primary school children, health care workers and young and unpaid carers.

The Scottish Government said it will look to extend to those aged 50-54 too, if vaccine supplies allow.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We want to reassure those who may now feel anxious about leaving home to get vaccinated.

“Getting the seasonal flu vaccine, especially when you have free eligibility, is one of the ways that you can support the NHS whilst protecting yourself and others this winter.

“If you think you are eligible for the vaccine, please visit NHS Inform, and if you receive a letter inviting you to get a vaccine, please follow the instructions.”

Karen Hedge, National Director at Scottish Care said: “Scottish Care welcomes the announcement that social care workers will be able to access free flu jabs.

“This is something we have been in dialogue with the Scottish Government about for some time, and we consider this move to be a real step forward in recognising the critical role of skilled and valuable care staff, protecting both them and also those they support.”

The flu vaccine extension comes after a surge in cases in Aberdeen linked to several pubs and bars.

Speaking at her daily press briefing, the First Minister confirmed that there were no new deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours.

It means the total death toll of people who tested positive for Covid-19 has stayed at 2,491 for 22 days.

Confirmed cases of the virus have now reached 18,890, after an increase of 43 on the day before.

Ms Sturgeon said 27 of the new cases were in the NHS Grampian region, but said it was unclear how many were linked to the Aberdeen cluster.

The number of patients in hospital with confirmed or suspected coronavirus stands at 262 - eight fewer than yesterday.

Four people are now being treated for the virus in Scotland’s intensive care units.

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