Jo reminds East Dunbartonshire residents flu risk this winter

Jo has encouraged her constituents at risk of flu to receive the vaccine

Jo Swinson was one of several MPs and Peers to receive flu vaccinations this week, in line with Government recommendations, in a bid to encourage their constituents to be vaccinated against flu for this 2008/09 season.

Last year 74.1 % of people over 65 years and 44 % in at risk groups were vaccinated against flu in Scotland.

Jo said:

“People over the age of 65 and those in at-risk groups should visit their GP surgeries for a free flu vaccination. Flu vaccination plays an important role in protecting those people who are more susceptible to serious complications from the condition.”

Dr George Kassianos, a GP and member of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Flu is a pretty nasty infection to get, but it can be a serious illness for people aged over 65 and those deemed to be ‘at risk’ so I would encourage these groups to get their jabs.”

Complications from flu can be severe, with as many as 3,000 – 4,000 deaths in the UK each year attributable to flu.

The Department of Health provides free flu vaccinations for at risk groups, which include those aged 65 or over; people with chronic respiratory disease (including asthma), heart, renal or liver disease; diabetes; low immune systems; as well as people living in long-stay facilities such as nursing and residential homes, and carers of elderly or disabled people.

The initiative is sponsored by the UK Vaccine Industry Group (UVIG) and has received the support of the Department of Health as a means of highlighting the importance of flu vaccination.

According to the influenza immunisation program 2008/2009, influenza vaccination should be offered to:

1. All those aged 65 and over

2. All those aged over 6 months in the following clinical ‘at-risk’ groups:

o Chronic respiratory disease and asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission

o Chronic heart disease

o Chronic renal disease

o Chronic liver disease

o Chronic neurological disease

o Diabetes

o Immunosuppression

3. Those living in long-stay residential and nursing homes or other long-stay facilities

4. Those who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. Vaccination should be given at the GP’s discretion.

5. Healthcare workers in the NHS are being encouraged to take up vaccination, especially those employees directly involved in patient care.

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