Humza Yousaf has urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 after a spike in hospitalisations.

A report released by Public Health Scotland on Wednesday shows an average of 735 patients were in hospital with Covid-19 in the week to December 11 – 18.2% higher than the previous week.

Flu admissions were also on the rise, with 3.6 admissions to hospital per 100,000 of the population in the same week, while the age group with the highest proportion of hospitalisations was children under one, with 18.5 per 100,000 in hospital.

The report said the number of people testing positive for flu is higher than in previous seasons.

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In the winter vaccine programme so far, more than 1.9 million Covid-19 jabs and more than 1.8 million flu vaccines have been administered.

The Health Secretary said: “Uptake for the winter vaccine programme is very encouraging with Scotland delivering more jabs per head of the population among over 50s than any other UK nation.

“However, the number of hospitalisations from both Covid-19 and flu are on the rise.

“The vaccines help to prevent serious illness and the need for hospital treatment, freeing up capacity as we move into what could be the most challenging winter in the history of our health and care service.

“We are concerned that flu-related hospital admissions have been rising, with admission rates highest among very young children, and we urge parents and carers to get their children vaccinated with the painless nasal spray offered to this group.

“As well as protecting the child, the vaccine helps to reduce the risk of children spreading flu to family and friends who are more vulnerable, which is especially important at this time of year when families are getting together more.”