The region’s biggest flu vaccine programme is under way with the young and old first to be inoculated.

It follows last year’s record programme when just under 100,000 residents – 25,000 more than in a normal year – were eligible for a jag during a 12-week period as health bosses fought to pre-empt the NHS being overwhelmed during the winter by the bug alongside the Covid-19 pandemic.

And with an extension of the scheme for this winter – including secondary school pupils for the first time and everyone aged 50 upwards – NHS Dumfries and Galloway has its work cut out.

Over 80s across the region are now receiving letters inviting them to receive their flu jags and the schools programme is getting underway.

It will see around 10,500 primary children get vaccinated at their schools with a painless nasal spray and – usually confined to teenagers who are they are in an “at-risk” group – all secondary pupils are now also being invited to get a flu vaccine for the first time.

Dr Nigel Calvert, consultant in public health medicine for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
Dr Nigel Calvert, consultant in public health medicine for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

This will also be via a nasal spray rather than a jag in the arm and will be done in their schools.

Immunisation co-ordinator for the region, Dr Nigel Calvert, said: “We are readying a programme to offer the provision of vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds within schools, in a similar way to the schools flu programme, delivering this over a two-week period beginning September 30.”

Information has been sent out to families with consent forms to be returned to schools and Dr Calvert said: “As with vaccinations for anything, at any age, this is something to be considered by individuals and their families.”

Flu vaccines alongside Covid booster jabs are now underway in care homes across the region.

Details are still to be released on the rest of the flu programme for the region’s population, working through the different groups.

Those eligible groups for the vaccine are:-

■ all those aged 50 years of age and over

■ those over six 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 two to five 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 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.