Dr Adrian Baker of Nairn Health Care Group told the Gurn:
"Influenza is a common seasonal illness, spread by coughing and sneezing, and affects individuals of all ages. However, it is most commonly children, and adults over 65, who are affected by illnesses and infections that arise as a result of the influenza virus. Flu can be caught throughout the year but with the onset of colder weather the virus is spread more easily from person to person. In the UK each year over 600 people die of illnesses brought on by the influenza virus. The immunisation helps to prevent flu and its complications. Injections will be given to those under two years old and over the age of eleven, while children aged between two and eleven will receive the immunisation in the form of a nasal spray.
Symptoms of the influenza virus can include high temperature, sweats, aching muscles and joints, headaches, sneezing, and a dry cough or sore throat. You may also feel drowsy or light-headed. These indicators are usually at their worst after two to three days and in most cases will clear up within a week to 10 days. If you have no underlying health issues, there is normally no need to see a doctor. However, if the symptoms persist or are particularly severe, seek medical attention as these indications can also signal more serious problems.
People with a weakened immune system or long-term medical condition such as diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, heart, kidney or liver condition, as well as carers for the elderly or disabled, and frontline health workers. Pregnant women should make an appointment with their midwife for the flu and the whooping cough vaccine. Vaccinations are available for other members of the public but are not funded by the NHS. These can be arranged privately through an appointment with your GP practice.
The immunisation vaccination aims to prevent the spread of the virus among at risk people and reduce the number of people with complications. The vaccination does not give you flu but helps the immune system to detect and fight off the infection. For every ten individuals immunised against the seasonal influenza virus, between seven and eight people will not get flu. At present in the Nairnshire region, uptake of the vaccination among those at risk below the age of 65 is around 52%, significantly below the NHS Highland average of 65%. Among individuals over the age of 65, immunisation uptake is currently at 71%, again lower than the NHS Highland average of 74%. It is important that more people are immunised to protect them and their friends, families and colleagues.
If you are entitled to a free vaccination, or would like to schedule a private appointment to receive the injection, please get in touch with Nairn Healthcare on 01667 452096. Clinics will run from the end of September and throughout October and into November in the Nairn and Ardersier surgeries."