People across Angus are today (Tuesday) being reminded to make an appointment to get their flu vaccine, four weeks into the roll-out of the national flu immunisation programme.
The call comes ahead of winter hitting in Scotland, as the virus can spread easier in colder temperatures.
With health professionals warning that there is the potential for this flu season to be serious, those with heart conditions and other underlying conditions are being reminded about the benefits of the vaccine in a bid to increase uptake.
Heart conditions put people at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from flu, and evidence highlights that heart attacks happen more often during or immediately after an acute inflammatory illness, such as flu.
A third of people hospitalised last year with flu had a heart condition, with the figure rising to half (50 per cent) of those aged 45 or over.
Mary Ballantyne, who was diagnosed with Coronary Heart Disease, backed the call as someone who knows how serious flu can be for those who are vulnerable.
Mary said: “I got the flu in 2014 and it was a truly awful time. Having a heart condition meant that it was even more serious and that I had to see the GP and cardiologist on several occasions to monitor my condition.
“I decided soon after experiencing the horrendous side effects of the flu, it was time to get the vaccine and it’s something I have made sure I have gotten every year since.
“I would encourage anyone who has a heart condition to get the vaccination, it’s certainly nothing to be worried about- it’s quick and a slightly uncomfortable arm is definitely a small price to pay to protect yourself against flu this winter.”
Dr Gregor Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, added: “We are now one month into the flu vaccination programme and want as many people as possible be protected against flu before winter hits.
“The vaccine really is the best defence against flu, especially for people with heart and other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, asthma or those with liver or kidney problems, as they can be seriously affected by the complications that can occur.
“The virus can spread a lot easier in the colder weather, that’s why it’s so important for people to make their vaccination a priority. It only takes a few minutes at your local GP practice and will protect you from flu for around a year.”
This year, the free flu vaccine will be offered to over 1.8 million people in Scotland – as well as those with heart disease, those with health conditions which can make them more vulnerable to flu such as diabetes, asthma and bronchitis are being encouraged to make an appointment with their GP practice.
The vaccine is also offered to those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, carers and healthcare workers.
To find out more about the flu vaccine and its benefits, visit immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.