A north-east doctor has issued a desperate plea for people to get flu jabs to prevent the region’s hospital staff from waging a simultaneous war against two “nasty viruses”.
Dr Simon Hilton, who is the immunisation co-ordinator for NHS Grampian, said it is vital the at-risk groups get their flu vaccine to avoid putting a strain on the health service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is understood the number of jabs being administered will increase significantly this winter due to coronavirus, with more people than usual being offered the service.
Dr Hilton is calling for people to do what they can to keep the two fast-spreading conditions at bay, and in turn prevent hospital wards from becoming swamped.
He said: “We are living in a global pandemic. Flu is a very serious illness, it adapts and changes constantly and it is not just a common cold.
“It causes serious illnesses and deaths every year and that puts a strain on the NHS. We want to avoid having two nasty viruses, in flu and Covid-19, circulating widely in the community this year.
“Please arrange your vaccine once you receive your invitation to do so, it will protect you, it will help protect those around you and it will protect the NHS.”
Dr Hilton’s comments come as the health board has announced changes to how the vaccine is delivered by setting up dedicated clinics.
The clinics will be set up in a number of locations across the region – including within secondary schools, sports halls, churches and other large venues.
Dr Hilton also made it clear the centres are set up with “people’s safety in mind” who may feel anxious about heading into a health environment.
“We put a huge amount of work in to make sure we have all the locations and staff we need to deliver the vaccine efficiently and effectively,” he added.
“We also wanted to make sure we give people the reassurance that if they attend for their vaccine, that their safety from Covid-19 will be at the forefront of that.”
Free flu vaccines are normally offered to people aged 65 and over, young children, pregnant women, people with conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease, people in care homes, carers and frontline health and social care workers.
The NHS has also reminded people that, if they are aged 16 and older, they can get the vaccine in pharmacies for a small fee.
For more information regarding the flu vaccine, people can visit NHSinform.scot or call NHS Grampian’s Flu helpline on 01224 555999.