Letters to islanders about this year's influenza vaccinations are directing some patients to clinics outside their local area, NHS Western Isles warns.

And they add: "Please don't worry – when you call to book your vaccination, our own local staff will assign you to the correct clinic."

And they say: "Please do not contact your GP Practice as this year’s influenza vaccination programme is being managed by NHS Western Isles."

The most vulnerable patients are being scheduled first, and staff will confirm which group patients fall into when they call us.
 
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"If you are eligible for the influenza vaccination and have not yet received your appointment letter, we can reassure you that appointment letters are being issued in stages and you will receive an invitation to book an appointment in due course."
 
People may have received a letter in error when they do not fall into one of the eligible groups. NHS Western Isles says that "if you are confident that you are not eligible for the vaccination, you do not need to contact us for a booking, and please accept our apologies for this confusion."
 
The Influenza vaccination is being offered to those aged 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions (e.g. asthma, stroke, diabetes), pregnant women, children aged between 2-5 years, primary school children and health care workers who are already eligible.
 
This year, for the first time, social care workers, those living in the same house as people who have been shielding from COVID-19, and 55-64 year olds are also now eligible to receive the Influenza vaccination.
 
Primary school pupils throughout the islands will be offered the influenza vaccination administered by the local school nursing team, during October and November. Most of these school children will receive the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, avoiding the need for an injection. Consent forms have been sent home in school bags for all primary pupils, with parents and carers urged to return the form with consent to ensure their child is protected against influenza this winter.
 
Pre-school children who are aged two and above (as at September 1, 2020) are also offered a free flu immunisation – again taken as a pain-free nasal spray.   Women who are pregnant will be offered the influenza vaccination by their midwife.