Scotland’s Influenza (Flu) and Covid-19 Booster programmes are continuing at pace, and NHS Western Isles is working as quickly as possible through eligible groups.
As per JCVI advice, NHSWI are vaccinating people in the highest risk groups for both Flu and COVID-19 first. NHS Western Isles staff have so far provided both Flu and COVID booster vaccinations to residents in older adult care homes and Flu immunisation to pre-school children aged 2-5.
Both Flu and COVID Booster vaccination has been offered to a significant proportion of those aged 80 and over across the Western Isles and we are currently inviting those aged 70 and over to attend appointments/drop-in clinics for both Flu and COVID Booster. Pregnant women will be able to receive their Flu vaccine from their midwife at an appropriate time.
Primary and secondary school Flu immunisations are also currently progressing well, and Flu (and COVID Booster for those eligible) clinics continue to be held for health and social care staff as well as for unpaid carers (young carers are eligible for the Flu vaccine, adult unpaid carers are eligible for both Flu and COVID Booster). At the same time, we continue to offer first and second dose COVID vaccinations to everyone eligible, as well as third doses as an extra ‘top up’ for people with a severely weakened immune system.
NHS Western Isles plans to begin providing drop-in opportunities (no appointment needed) for Flu and COVID Booster vaccinations for those aged 60 and over and for adults aged 16 or over with underlying health conditions by mid-November (though if good progress is achieved, we may be able to start offering appointments to this group earlier in November). Those who do not attend drop-in clinics will receive an appointment letter.
We will be running a series of drop-in clinics for eligible groups over the coming weeks and months (by age/’at risk’ group) for people to attend without an appointment letter. For those who do not attend the drop-in clinics, appointment letters will be issued (with the exception of health and social care staff, pregnant women and school children).
The winter Flu and COVID-19 vaccination programmes are working together to reduce the risks for both types of illness. Wherever possible, those eligible for the Booster jab will be offered both the Flu vaccine and COVID-19 Boosters on the same day. This is safe and effective to do and will reduce the need to have two separate appointments.
So far in the Western Isles, we have administered more than 3,800 Covid-19 Boosters and more than 3,200 Flu vaccinations.
For those in the underlying health conditions group – the type of health condition will guide whether they will be given a flu jab, the COVID-19 booster, or both vaccines.
Full details on who is eligible for these vaccinations are available on NHS Inform.
NHS Western Isles Nurse and AHP Director/Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Mackenzie said: “We are currently working through priority lists for those who are eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster and the Flu vaccine and are making good headway. Appointments for both vaccines are being scheduled based on clinical need and age and it will take into the middle of January for everyone to be offered their vaccines. Boosters will be offered to many of the groups who routinely have the flu vaccine to protect people from both illnesses. To support this, we are ensuring those most vulnerable are vaccinated first.
“Everyone who is eligible will be offered a vaccination. If you haven’t received your appointment letter yet, please be patient. You do not have to do anything now - you will be contacted, notifying you of your appointment.
“When offered vaccinations we would encourage people to take these up. Flu can be extremely serious and is very infectious. With COVID-19 still circulating in the community we can best protect those most at risk as well as ease pressure on our National Health Service and social care services by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated against flu and boost their immunity to coronavirus.”
We would remind our communities that the COVID vaccine does not prevent you from contracting COVID-19 – it helps prevent serious illness in the event that you catch the virus. It is therefore important that individuals follow the simple precautions in place:
- When meeting with others, try to keep your distance - meet outdoors where possible;
- When meeting indoors, open a window and let fresh air in;
- Keep cleaning your hands and hand surfaces regularly;
- Remember face coverings are required in most indoor public places (exemptions apply);
- Keep self-testing regularly (twice a week and before travelling) when you have no symptoms;
- Get vaccinated when your turn comes.