People who are eligible to receive the flu vaccine are being urged to make immunisation a priority.

Health chiefs said the vaccine offers the “best protection” against the flu virus.

Last winter, the number of flu cases in Scotland more than doubled and, on average, almost 2,000 people north of the border are hospitalised with flu or its complications each year.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman launched a national vaccination campaign on a visit to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, last week.
And she stressed that, for those at risk, flu can be deadly.

Ms Freeman said: “This year, we want to ensure as many people as possible are protected from flu ahead of winter hitting.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and remains the best protection against the flu virus. It is important to stress that the flu vaccine offered to those aged between 65 and 74 this winter still provides protection.

“Last winter was a particularly bad year for flu, with a rise in the number of cases and hospitalisations.

“Flu can be extremely serious for those who are vulnerable and is very infectious. We can best protect people by encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated early.

“Not only will you protect yourself but you’ll also be playing a part in helping stop the spread of the virus this winter.”

During her visit, Ms Freeman met Dr Euan McMillan, emergency department consultant at the RAH, and lead nurse Gerry McLaughlin to discuss the issues faced by NHS staff when the flu virus leads to a large number of hospitalisations.

Official figures show the number of people who died in Scotland over the winter months was the highest in more than 30 years.

Those eligible for the flu vaccine include people with asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases or autoimmune disorders.

People aged 65 and over, pregnant women and children aged two to 11 will also be offered the vaccination, as well as NHS Scotland workers and unpaid carers, in a bid to help stop the spread of the virus.

Children aged five to 11 will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term and others will receive the vaccine at their GP practice.

In total, around 2.5 million people will be offered the free flu jab.

Anyone who would like more information is advised to visit the website at

Alternatively, telephone the NHS Inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.