TOWNSFOLK considered “at risk” of contracting seasonal influenza are being urged to take up the offer of a flu vaccination.
Figures for the Borders show that 4,500 people in the region failed to take up the jab and that figure does not include the over 65s who are entitled to free inoculations.
Apart from the over-65s, the key target groups eligible for the jabs are those with existing long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and other heart, lung and liver diseases. Also considered at risk are pregnant women, unpaid carers of any age and NHS workers who deal directly with patients.
NHS Borders is strongly urging people in these groups to make sure they go to their GP to get the free jab, which only takes a few minutes to administer but offers protection for around the year.
This year’s vaccine protects against three types of flu, including the swine flu strain which is still circulating.
Dr Tim Paterson, public health consultant with NHS Borders, said: “It takes about 10 days for you to be protected . . . so it’s best to get is as early possible in the flu season which is from this month onwards.”
“Flu is a serious illness and the vaccination is the most effective protection from it,” said Dr Tim Paterson, public health consultant with NHS Borders.
“If you are in one of the at-risk groups, then the impact of flu can be even more serious with symptoms hitting you harder and lasting longer.
“You could end up in hospital or contract pneumonia or bronchitis.”
Each GP practice in Hawick is making its own arrangements for giving the vaccine during this month and November and will contact those patients in the at-risk group.
NHS Borders is advising that people in that group who have not made arrangements to get the vaccine by mid-November should contact their GP surgeries for an appointment.