Who should get the flu vaccine immunisation?
Anyone with a health condition
, people aged 65 or over, pregnant women
, and those who work in health care
are eligible for free flu immunisation.
For information on the childhood flu immunisation programme for 2018 see below.
What is Flu?
Flu is much more than a bad cold. It’s a virus which can make even healthy people feel very unwell. In the most serious cases, flu can bring on pneumonia, or other serious infections which can, in extreme cases, result in death.
Flu is often spread through the air by coughs and sneezes. It can also be caught by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.
When is flu season?
In Scotland, flu season usually begins as the weather gets colder, so get the vaccine as soon as you can. The vaccine is available from October through to the end of March.
How does the flu vaccine work?
The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and should protect you from flu for around a year. You have to get immunised every year because the virus changes constantly and your immunity reduces over time. Last year’s vaccine won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu viruses. The flu vaccine can’t give you flu, but it can stop you catching it. the vaccine effective?
Over the last ten years, the flu vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains of flu so you can be confident being vaccinated is the best way to help protect yourself against flu, a virus which can cause serious illness. Even when it is not as well matched, if you do develop flu and you have had the vaccine, symptoms may be less severe and you may be less likely to develop complications requiring you to see your GP or being admitted to hospital.
Is the vaccine safe?
The Scottish Government has no safety concerns about the vaccines used in the seasonal flu programme. As with all medicines used in Scotland, the influenza vaccines undergo rigorous safety testing by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and no concerns were reported. The MHRA continues to monitor the safety of these vaccines.
What if I am not in one of the eligible groups?
If you are 16 years old or over and not in one of the eligible groups for the free flu immunisation, you can get the vaccine in many high street pharmacies for a small fee.
Who are the eligible groups?
Anyone with a health condition is at particular risk from flu and eligible for the vaccine. Conditions and diseases which make flu more dangerous include:
- liver problems such as cirrhosis/hepatitis
- asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
Anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatment should also get the flu vaccine. If you’re under 18 years, have a health condition or care for someone who does, you should also get the vaccine.
Anyone aged 65 or over is eligible for the flu vaccine.
The details of the 2018-2019 immunisation campaign for shingles have also been released. It is recommended for the majority of patients in their 70s - details below. The vaccine significantly reduces the risk of getting shingles, or reduces the severity of it if you do. It can be administered at any time of the year, not just in the Autumn/winter period.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox and causes painful blisters on the skin.
In Scotland around 7000 people aged 70 years and over get shingles every year. There is a vaccine that can reduce your risk of getting shingles (also known as herpes zoster), or, if you do get shingles, it can reduce how serious the symptoms will be.
How long does shingles last and how serious is it?
The shingles rash usually appears a few days after the pain begins and lasts for about a week, but the pain can last much longer. And the older you are, the more likely you are to have long-lasting pain. In some cases, the pain persists for several months or even years – this is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Current treatments for PHN are not very effective, but the shingles vaccine reduces the risk of getting shingles and PHN.
Who is eligible for the vaccine this year?
It is available to everyone born between 2.9.38 and 1.9.42 and those born between 2.9.43 and 1.9.48. Those born in the gap year between these periods are likely to be offered the vaccine next year.
Pneumococcal Vaccine or "Pneumovacc"
The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections.
Pneumococcal infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to chest infections, ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. At their worst, they can cause permanent brain damage, or even kill.If you are 65 or over, you will be offered a type of jab known as the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV). This one-off vaccination is very effective at protecting you against serious forms of pneumococcal infection.
It is also offered to people under 65 in "at risk" groups. These groups are the same as those described above for flu immunisation.
Since 4/12/17, this scheme has been running to allow women aged 16-65 with symptoms of uncomplicated urinary tract infection (cystitis) to receive antibiotic treatment direct from a pharmacist without having to see a GP first. Patients should normally attend the pharmacy in person and the pharmacist will assess their symptoms and provide advice, NHS treatment (free of charge) or referral as appropriate.
This service is also available for patients over the age of 2 for the treatment of impetigo (minor skin infection limited to a few areas in one area of the body)