The Joint Director of Public Health in the Scottish Borders, Dr Tim Patterson, asked Rachael Hamilton MSP for assistance to encourage flu vaccine uptake in the Borders for those in at risk categories, such as those with long term medical conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
To assist NHS Borders the member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire lodged a portfolio question to the Minister for Public Health and Sport on action it would take to encourage the uptake of the flu vaccine. Mrs Hamilton has also uploaded a video on her Facebook page urging those in high risk categories to visit their local GP or flu-clinic to receive the vaccination.
The Government responded that it had a national marketing campaign to promote the flu vaccine and to encourage uptake amongst those who are eligible. It noted that this year's campaign highlights the importance of the flu vaccine and challenges perceptions of the risks and consequences of flu amongst different eligible groups.
Australia has experienced its worst flu season in around 10 years. There are fears that will be replicated in Scotland, putting increased pressure on primary care and hospital services this winter.
Dr Patterson detailed that the Borders uptake of the flu vaccine is usually better than the national average but a steady decline has been recorded across all at risk groups in recent years and this trend needs to be reversed.
It was noted that the at-risk under 65 population is particularly concerning as uptake is rarely greater than 50%.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: "The flu vaccine saves lives and I encourage anyone at risk to take up the vaccine and protect themselves against the flu.
"The Borders has a strong performance with flu uptake and I would want this to continue.
"That being said, a steady decline has been recorded amongst all groups and I would want to see that reversed this year."
The video can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Rachael2Win/videos/1745428505764432/