Eligible people in Tayside and Fife are being reminded to take up the offer of the winter flu jab, as figures show the winter death rate dropped last year.
Winter mortality across Scotland decreased by 13% on the year before, with Fife experiencing a 9% drop and Tayside a 13% reduction.
Fewer people died during the winter in Tayside than at any point in the last four years.
Age Scotland welcomed the news, but warned against complacency and noted previous spike could have been a result of winter events like the recent “beast from the east”.
Head of policy Adam Stachura said: “On the face of it this significant reduction in additional winter deaths is good news and when compared to the previous year where the most common cause of death was pneumonia and flu they are now considerably lower.
“The two spikes in additional winter deaths over the last decade seem to have coincided with extremely cold weather which means that it is vitally important to ensure that older people, particularly those on low income and in poor health, are better prepared to stay warm and vaccinated against the flu.
“To do this we must redouble efforts to ensure in advance of future extreme cold weather older people have access to home energy efficiency programmes, are aware of how to maximise their incomes with benefits such as Pension Credit so that they can afford to heat their homes and eat hot food, and get the flu vaccine as early as possible to protect against that risk.”
“This year’s flu vaccine awareness campaign already appears to be doing a good job in boosting take up but it is important that people do book these in with their GP practice as soon as possible. We would also encourage any older person, especially those on a low state pension, to call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for a free benefit and entitlement check to make sure they are not missing out on Pension Credit.”
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Every winter period sees a seasonal increase in deaths compared to the rest of the year. Today’s figures show that last winter there was a 13% fall in the number of deaths compared to the previous winter.
“We know that winter creates particular pressures on our health and social care system. This is why it is crucial that those with underlying health conditions, those who are pregnant or are older than 65 receive their free flu vaccination.
“The vaccination offers the best defence against the flu virus which can lead to serious complications and potentially hospital treatment.
“I also want to thank all our health and social care staff for their continued hard work and dedication throughout the year, but especially in winter.
“We know from the latest staff experience report that satisfaction remains high and we want to ensure that this continues to grow.”