Dr Tim Patterson, NHS Borders Joint Director of Public Health, said: "Influenza kills every year. Even if you are healthy and likely to recover quickly from it please consider others who are less fortunate. Even if you have no symptoms you can still pass the flu on to others. Getting the flu vaccine will help to protect yourself, your family, your colleagues and anyone who you come into contact with during the winter months."

Claire Pearce, NHS Borders Director of Nursing, Midwifery & Acute Services, added: "Gettnig the flu vaccination is all the more important for those of us working in a healthcare environment. You are not only more likely to catch flu but also to pass it on to others who are already unwell or cannot easily fight off infections or illnesses. So please get the flu vaccination to protect yourself, your family and your patients."

NHS Borders' preparations for the winter months are well underway. October saw us launch our Staff Flu Vaccination campaign which runs from 1 October 2017 right through until 31 March 2018. During this time free flu vaccinations are offered to all NHS Borders staff.

Local GPs will be offering free flu vaccinations to all people in 'at risk groups', which includes:

  • Pregnant women
  • People aged over 65
  • Anyone with a health condition such as asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease or liver problems
  • Healthcare workers

There is a childhood flu immunisation programme that offers all children in Scotland aged 2-5 years (and not yet in school) the flu vaccine at their GP practice. It is also offered to all primary school children through their school.

Why?

Everyone has heard the word 'flu' and knows someone who's had it. So sometimes it's easy to think that flu is not serious, or simply consider it to be a bad cold. This is not the case.

Influenza is a real risk. In this country flu kills more people than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

No matter how healthy you are, how often you wash your hands or if you've had the flu vaccination in previous years - you are still at risk. Every winter roughly 1 in 5 people are infected with some form of flu, and around 70% of these people show no symptoms but can still infect others.

This is why it is so important to take advantage of the best possible protection against flu: the vaccination. The flu vaccination can be a very effective vaccine. Every year the vaccine is specifically designed to provide protection for the four flu strains that are most likely to be in circulation. To maximise the vaccine's impact, get the jab early in the flu season, as it takes around 14 days to become effective.

This year in particular, it is perhaps even more important. The Australian winter was hit hard by the flu virus. They experienced their worst flu season in 10 years. It may indicate that, here in the Northern Hemisphere, we could expect a similar situation with more cases of influenza than usual.

So we would strongly encourage those people in 'at risk' groups to get their free flu vaccination. The vaccine is also available for a low cost at many large pharmacies.

For further information on influenza, and other ways to protect your health, please visit: /staying-healthy/public-health-information/protecting-your-health/

Claire Pearce
Director of Nursing, Midwifery & Acute Services

Dr Tim Patterson
Joint Director of Public Health