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Children and adults with health conditions, and parents of children aged 2-5, are urged to protect themselves and their children against flu, which can be a serious and fatal illness for these groups of people. That’s the message from Scottish actor Jordan Young and leading health professionals before the peak flu season hits ahead of Christmas.

The child flu vaccination programme is once again underway following a temporary delay and all remaining supplies of the Fluenz vaccine are now delivered and available for use in Scotland.

River City star Jordan Young, who is currently making his King’s theatre Christmas debut in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, is a dad of two. He said:

“Flu is dangerous for so many people - that’s why I’m making sure that my children get vaccinated. At their age kids bring home all sorts of bugs from nursery and school. With the flu vaccination I know they’re protected from an illness that can really harm them.”

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said:

"Flu can be extremely serious for those who are vulnerable, and is very infectious. We can best protect the people of Scotland by encouraging everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Not only will you protect yourself, but you'll also be playing a part in helping stop the spread of the virus this holiday period.

“We have done everything possible to minimise any disruption caused by the UK-wide delay in supply of the Fluenz vaccine and the full allocation for Scotland has now been delivered. NHS boards are working with partners to ensure all primary school children get their flu vaccine as soon as possible and will let parents and schools know about local arrangements.”

Nuala Healy, Organisational Lead for Screening and Immunisation at NHS Health Scotland, said:

“Getting the flu vaccine is hugely beneficial for your child’s health. It can help them avoid days spent ill in bed rather than being at nursery or taking part in day to day activities, especially during the Christmas holidays. The flu vaccine is a simple vaccination that is given as a quick and painless nasal spray. Parents can be assured about the seriousness of flu and the safety of the vaccine by visiting the website.”

Dr Jim McMenamin, who leads the seasonal flu immunisation programme at Health Protection Scotland, said:

“Flu is much worse than a bad cold. Every year in Scotland, children are hospitalised for the treatment of flu or its complications. Young children can be especially vulnerable because their immune systems haven’t fully developed yet.

“That’s why we are urging parents to contact their GP or local flu clinic to make an appointment for their child. We can’t emphasise enough that the flu vaccine is the safest and most effective protection against the flu virus.”

Pregnant women, those aged 65 and over, and people with underlying medical conditions are also urged to get their free vaccine in the next few weeks, before flu begins to circulate widely.

People with conditions like diabetes, heart or breathing problems, had the greatest decline in uptake of the vaccine last year, yet are at greater risk from the complications of flu.

Ian Baxter, from Forfar, is living with COPD. Ian runs the Forfar Airways, a Peer Support Group, supported by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. The group links closely with local NHS rehabilitation services to support people in managing their condition. Ian said:

“I’ve had the flu vaccination every year since I was diagnosed with COPD back in 2004. Getting the flu would be such a bad thing especially at Christmas. The thought of it developing into a chest infection and having to fight it off is a big fear for me - it would be really hard for me to bounce back with my condition and enjoy festivities with my family.”

NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Government are currently re-running radio and digital adverts to encourage vaccine uptake among eligible groups.