In the first week of the winter vaccination programme, 27,000 people have come forward to get their flu vaccine, which is a great response. We’ve all seen the devastating effect the pandemic has had in the past 18 months so it’s really important we all play our part to limit the impact this winter.
This is a personal appeal to encourage everyone who’s eligible to get their flu vaccination this winter. COVID-19 has not gone away soit’s more important than ever to protect yourself by getting the vaccination and do your bit to ease the pressure on social care, GP surgeries and hospitals over winter.
Many of you will already have received a letter either with an appointment or asking you to book one online. I know there’s been an issue with the scheduling of some flu appointments via the national booking system. This means some people’s appointments are not as local as would have been expected, and a few cases where people who are housebound have been asked to go to an appointment. I know how concerning this is for people who cannot travel.
If you have received a letter with an appointment that you are unable to attend, you can rearrange your appointment for a more local venue by going online at https://www.nhsinform.scot/flu-vaccine/invitations-and-appointments/rearrange-your-flu-vaccine-appointment or ring the national flu vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 for help to re-book. More local appointments are now available for people who find it difficult to travel. If you are housebound and normally get your flu jab at home then you will get it at home again this year, even if you’ve received an appointment letter.
It’s really good to see that so many people have been turning out to get their vaccinations. The Royal Highland Centre site experienced a slight delay in topping up vaccination stocks on Tuesday morning (5 October) due to the level of demand across other sites and some people were asked to return the following day. This was resolved within an hour and I can assure you that we have good vaccine stocks in Edinburgh.
Across Scotland, GP surgeries are no longer responsible for flu vaccinations for their patients. Now, health and social care partnerships manage the flu programme. In Edinburgh we have a range of drive through and walk through clinics for adults which will open at weekends during October and November. Edinburgh’s main site is in Lowland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre which is open seven days a week and easy to access by public transport (buses 100, 200 and 400). We also have small local clinics for people who can’t make their way to Ingliston. Children have received a letter for their parents or carers about their vaccine. If it’s been six months since your second dose of the COVID vaccine, you may also get your COVID vaccine booster at the same time as your flu vaccine.
It’s a massive programme and this year there’s more people than ever eligible to get a vaccine which is great news. You can now get the vaccine if you’re over 50, pregnant, an unpaid carer, at risk because of an existing health condition, or because of the job that you do. You can check if you are eligible for a flu vaccine, or find more information, at nhsinform.scot/flu.
I’d really encourage you to take up that offer – go to your vaccination appointment if you have been given one or book an appointment on the online portal if you’ve been asked to do that.
Please don’t be in any doubt – flu is serious. Getting the vaccine will protect you, your family and friends, and also our vital NHS and social care services.