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Invitation letters are currently being issued to parents and carers of pre-school children aged between two and five years across the Western Isles, inviting them to bring their child for a flu vaccination appointment.

More people than ever are being offered the flu vaccine this year as it is the safest, most effective way for people to protect themselves against flu.

The flu vaccine should start to protect most children about 10-14 days after they get their vaccination, so the earlier your child can get the vaccine, the better. 

NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: “Flu is serious and can result in even healthy children and teenagers ending up in hospital.  This winter, our immunity may be lower than usual due to lower levels of the flu virus circulating last year while the crucial public health measures were in place.

"Getting the flu vaccine nasal spray is the best way to protect your child and those around them, and will help prevent the flu virus putting extra strain on NHS Western Isles services this winter.” 

It is more crucial than ever that as many eligible people as possible get vaccinated against flu, so please ensure that your child attends their vaccination appointment (or let us know if your child will not be attending, or if you wish to change the appointment). Details will be contained in the appointment letters.  

If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, you can visit nhsinform.scot or speak to a health or immunisation team, practice nurse, or GP. 

The flu virus changes every year, so you need to get the vaccine every year to stay protected. The flu vaccine cannot give you flu, but it can stop you catching it.  

In a small number of cases, the nasal spray may not be suitable, and the vaccine can be given as an injection in the arm instead.  

For more information about the flu vaccine, visit www.nhsinfrom.scot/childflu, call 0800 030 8013, or speak to a health or immunisation team, practice nurse, or GP. 

This year, the following groups are eligible for the flu vaccine: 

  • all those aged 50 years of age and over 
  • those over 6 months of age with a medical condition which puts them in an 'at risk' group such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases, or autoimmune disorders. 
  • healthcare workers 
  • social care workers who deliver direct personal care 
  • unpaid and young carers 
  • pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions) 
  • children aged 2-5 years old (not yet at school) 
  • primary school children 
  • secondary school pupils 
  • NHS independent contractors including GP, dental and optometry practices, community pharmacists and laboratory staff working on COVID-19 testing 
  • teachers, nursery teachers and support staff in close contact with pupils (in both a local authority and independent setting) 
  • prison staff and support staff in close contact with the prison population (delivering direct detention services) 
  • those in the prison population