More than 1.8 million people in Scotland are being urged to get their flu vaccine as early as possible this winter to help protect themselves.
People with health conditions which can make them more vulnerable to flu such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and bronchitis are being encouraged to make an appointment with their GP practice as soon as possible.
The vaccine is also offered to those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, carers and healthcare workers.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith, said:
“Over the last five years around 500 deaths have occurred each winter which can be attributable, or related to, flu.
“While we don’t know which flu strain will dominate in Scotland this season, the news that the southern hemisphere has experienced its worst flu outbreak in years is a timely reminder that everyone at risk should help protect themselves against flu this winter by taking up the offer of the flu vaccine.
“The vaccine provides the best defence, and getting it early is vital. I’d encourage those eligible to make their flu vaccination a priority and book an appointment with their GP practice today.”
Rugby player Murray Johnstone, 26 from Edinburgh, makes a point of getting his flu vaccination every year.
Murray, who has asthma, said:
“I’ve been getting the flu vaccination for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t take the risk as I know that getting the flu could trigger my asthma symptoms and increase the chances of an attack.
“I’ve fortunately never had flu, but I’m not complacent. Staying healthy throughout the winter is important to me which is why I always prioritise getting the vaccine at the start of October.”