NHS Western Isles highlights the importance of being prepared for seasonal illness this winter – and reminds all Western Isles residents eligible for a free Flu Vaccination that there is still time to have your flu jab.

NHSWI Medical Director, Dr Angus McKellar, said: “We know that the festive period can be a particularly busy time for all services in NHS Western Isles, so it’s important that we all do what we can to look after ourselves and our families, where appropriate.

“Knowing where to get help if someone does become unwell is also important, so it’s good to know your local GP and pharmacy opening times that may vary over the holidays.”

Dr McKellar added: “We also have a really good resource online at www.nhsinform.scot which includes self-help guides so you can quickly and easily check symptoms and decide what to do next.”

General advice and information on how to stay healthy this winter can be found at www.nhsinform.scot or contact NHS inform on 0800 224488.

Key Steps to Be Health-Wise this Winter are:

– Be prepared for common illnesses with at-home remedies eg: pain relief, cold medicines, and rehydration salts.Many children and adults pick up common winter ailments such as colds, flu-like illness or upset stomachs which can often be effectively treated at home with readily available medicines. Parents are reminded to have remedies that are suitable for children.

– Make sure you check any repeat prescriptions. If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you have enough medicine to last over the Christmas holiday period, but please don’t over order. And remember to pick it up in plenty time too.

– Know when your GP surgery and pharmacy will be open.

As December marks mid-way in the national flu immunisation programme, Western Isles residents who haven’t yet taken up their invitation for a free flu jab are encouraged to do so.

Flu is a very infectious disease which can have serious consequences and can be fatal.

The free flu jab is offered to those who have existing health conditions – such as heart problems, diabetes, emphysema, liver or kidney disease – as well as children aged two to five years and primary school pupils, those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, carers and healthcare workers.

NHSWI Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: “Flu can cause severe health complications and the best way to protect yourself and help prevent spread of the virus is to get vaccinated.

“It only takes a few minutes and even if you were immunised against flu last winter it is important to receive the vaccine again, as the viruses change each season.”

You can find out more about the 2018 flu vaccine and its benefits at www.readyforflu.scot, or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.