Healthcare staff have a ‘professional responsibility’ to get the flu vaccine

Frontline health and social care workers will be offered the seasonal vaccine by their employer.

Healthcare staff have a “very strong professional responsibility” to get the winter flu vaccination, argues England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Figures show that while the number of healthcare workers getting the vaccine has “improving remarkably”, with around 70% receiving the vaccination last season, there is still work to be done as in some areas uptake rates were “in the 40s or 50s”.

With this seasons target set at “above 90%”, frontline health and social care workers will be offered the seasonal vaccine free of charge by their employer.

‘Staff can spread flu without realising it.’

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “We do know that flu infections, while sometimes severe, can also be asymptomatic, and staff can spread flu without realising it.

“From a patient perspective, you don’t want to be in a situation where you feel that seven out ten of the healthcare professionals you meet will be vaccinated; you’d like to be in a situation where nine or ten out of ten you meet are vaccinated.

“So I think there’s a very, very strong professional responsibility on healthcare workers to be vaccinated.”

‘Staff should be encourage not coerced.’

Commenting on the call from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England for healthcare workers to have the flu jab, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “No NHS worker would ever willingly put patients or colleagues at risk.”

Empahsising; “the highest vaccination rates are in trusts that encourage staff to get the jab, not those where employees are coerced.

“Pressuring staff to have the injection, when some may be reluctant for genuine reasons, is counter-productive. The NHS couldn’t get by without the goodwill of its staff and trusts shouldn’t jeopardise that.”

The number of children vaccinated against a range of life-threatening illnesses in England and Wales has fallen, a new report has revealed.

For the combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine, coverage at 12 months was 92.1%, its lowest level since 2008-09.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has blamed the fall in vaccine uptake on “false and misleading information on vaccinations” particularly on social media.

“More importantly still, the Government must implement an effective vaccination strategy that addresses the wide-ranging factors behind this decline and deliver adequate resources to ensure targeted, comprehensive vaccination programmes that reach those most in need.”