A RECORD two million-plus Scots are being offered the chance to protect themselves against flu this winter with a free vaccine.
People with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those aged 65 and above are all being urged to have the jab.
Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s senior medical officer, warned flu could hit these people “really hard” but said the vaccine offered the best protection from the virus.
Children aged between two and 11 are also being offered a nasal spray vaccine.
Dr Steedman said: “Flu is much worse than the common cold - it’s an illness that can cause serious health complications for those at risk.
“Even if you feel fit and healthy, if you have an underlying health condition, are 65 or over or are pregnant then flu can hit you really hard.
“By taking up the free flu vaccine you can ensure you and your family are getting the best protection from the virus.”
She spoke out as she launched the annual immunisation campaign at Conan Doyle Medical Centre in Edinburgh, where she met a grandmother and grand-daughter being vaccinated.
Helen Slicer, 52, from South Queensferry, said it was “fantastic” both she and four-year-old Zoe were being immunised.
The grandmother said: “I have rheumatoid arthritis and I’m on immunosuppressant drugs, so although I feel healthy, I know that catching flu could have a really serious impact on my health.
“I always make sure that I receive the flu vaccine to stay fit and well over winter. I visit my GP as soon as possible, before the weather turns colder.
“I think it’s fantastic that my grandchild will also be protected from flu.
“I know that children are two to three times more likely to be ill with the virus than adults, so it’s good to be assured that those I love aren’t going to get sick too.”
Dr Steedman stressed: “It only takes a few minutes to receive the vaccine but it will protect you for around a year.
“Even if you were immunised against flu last year, it’s important to receive the vaccine again as the viruses can change every year.
“It’s best to get the flu vaccine before there’s lots of viruses circulating and the vaccine takes ten to 14 days to work, so make an appointment with your GP practice as soon as possible.
“Don’t forget to take your child or grandchild with you if they’re not in school yet and between two and five years old, as they are also eligible to be vaccinated.”