IT’S that time of the year again when the flu roams the streets of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire searching for fresh victims.
And, again, the Scottish government is urging people in risk groups to see their doctor for the flu jab to protect against it.
Many people consider influenza to be little more than a bad cold – but it’s not, it is a serious illness.
If you are pregnant, over 65 years of age or have an existing, long-term health condition such as diabetes, asthma or other heart and lung conditions, it can lead to other serious complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
In extreme cases it could result in hospitalisation or even death.
But having the vaccine greatly reduces the chances of catching flu and offers protection during the winter months.
The flu vaccine is freely available from your GP or health centre — and people should try to get it early, before the flu viruses are circulating.
Those being offered the flu jab include everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those in long-stay residential care homes, unpaid carers and young carers, as well as people with chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic neurological disease, diabetes and immuno-suppression.
It is estimated that in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area an estimated 53,852 people under the age of 65 who were entitled to the flu jab failed to take up the offer.
And in this same area more than 185,198 people aged over 65 are also entitled to the flu jab.
Health professionals are urging people in ‘at risk’ groups to come forward as soon as possible.
Doctor Syed Ahmed, the flu immunisation co-ordinator at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Flu should be taken seriously — it is not the same as the common cold and the virus can have an immediate and severe effect.
“If you are in one of the at-risk groups, then it’s important to protect yourself from flu as it could hit you harder and last much longer.
“In severe cases, you could even end up in hospital.
“If you are in one of the at-risk groups and haven’t been contacted yet then you should make an appointment with your GP to get the free vaccination as soon as you can.
“It only takes a few minutes to be vaccinated, but it will give you protection against flu for around the year.
“The jab is quick, easy and safe – so don’t take the chance of getting ill this winter”.