THIS year’s Autumn/Winter programme has an increased focus on protecting those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from flu and COVID-19. 

Flu only clinics are the first appointments to be offered for vaccination.

READ MORE: Police seize motorbike from disqualified driver on A7

People aged 50-64 with no underlying health conditions and non-frontline health and social care workers are now being called forward to book an appointment at one of Borders community clinics starting from today Monday September 4.

There are still spaces at Coldstream, Duns, Earlston, Eyemouth, Hawick, Newtown and Peebles.

Flu vaccines are being prioritised from September and NHS Scotland has contacted those who are eligible for a flu vaccine. 

READ MORE: Find out who Gala Fairydean Rovers face in the Scottish Cup

The following groups are eligible for flu vaccination this year:

People aged 50 years and over,

People aged 18-49 with an eligible health condition

Non-frontline health and social care workers

Nursery, primary and secondary school teachers and pupil-facing support staff

School age pupils (primary and secondary)

Children aged 2-5 on 1 September 2023 (and not yet at school)

Children aged 6 months to 2 years at risk 

School children will soon begin to receive their flu vaccines (nasal sprays). 

Flu appointments can be booked via the online booking portal NHS Inform portal or by calling the National Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013. 

READ MORE: Patching work begins this week on Borders road

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs, which are a part of the respiratory system. You can catch flu all year round, but you are at greater risk of catching it during the wintertime. 

The flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against flu. It will also help reduce the risk of spreading flu to others. In the coming months, NHS Borders will offer flu vaccinations to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. 

Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses. It is possible to contract flu after a vaccine but it’s likely to be milder and not last as long. Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu, like babies and young children, older people, and people with health conditions. It can also help to reduce admission to hospital. 

READ MORE: Ridelines urges Borders of all ages to get on their bikes

The flu vaccine will be given as an injection in the upper arm. You will only need one dose of the vaccine each flu season. It takes around 10 days for the vaccine to work.

All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used and are monitored by the Medicines and Health care products Regulatory Agency. 

Most people do not experience any, or only mild side effects, afterhaving the vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease. 

Side effects might include a sore arm, slight fever, chills, or fatigue and are usually managed by taking paracetamol. A member of staff will discuss this with you at your appointment.