Public Health Scotland (PHS) continues to urge those eligible to take up the offer of their flu and COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible to ensure they’re protected ahead of the festive season.

This year’s winter vaccination programme is focused on protecting those most vulnerable to flu and COVID-19. 

Last festive season, hospital admissions for flu peaked on Christmas Day and for COVID-19 on New Year’s Day.

During the colder winter months when people stay indoors for longer, and in larger groups, there is an increase in the number of people experiencing coughs, colds and flu or COVID-19-like illnesses.

Latest vaccination uptake figures show that many of those eligible are yet to take up the offer of their vaccines, and are encouraged to check local arrangements and find the nearest drop-in vaccination centre or book online.

With increased appointment availability across Scotland and most local Health Boards now running drop-in clinics, those eligible are encouraged to take up the offer of their COVID-19 and flu vaccines before the festive celebrations begin.

You can check if you’re eligible for the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, book an appointment or check out drop-in clinics at: Winter vaccines – NHS inform .

Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against flu and COVID-19 and we strongly encourage eligible people to take up the vaccination offer now, to help avoid missing out on socialising with friends and family over the peak winter season. 

Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science, PHS said:

"Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccine protection fades and the flu virus changes over time. The vaccinations offered this season top up your protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and flu.

"Those that have not yet received their vaccinations are encouraged to come forward and make an appointment or check local arrangements. There are a range of vaccination sites available in each Health Board, with many now offering drop-ins too."

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Gregor Smith, said:

“The festive period is a time that many look forward to spending with family and friends, rather than being ill or in hospital. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against winter viruses such as flu and COVID-19.

“Both flu and COVID-19 can be serious. The flu virus is always changing and protection from the COVID-19 vaccine fades over time, so it’s important that those eligible keep their protection levels topped up by getting their vaccines now.  You can check whether a drop-in clinic is running nearby or book an appointment online by visiting NHS Inform.  If you're not online you can also call the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013.

“Taking up all vaccinations offered throughout life is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children.”

Last updated: 27 November 2023