It is “imperative” nurses get vaccinated against influenza, England’s most senior nurses have said in the latest attempt to boost notoriously low uptake among NHS staff.
NHS England chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and Department of Health director of nursing Viv Bennett have signed an open letter to nurses and midwives.
It states: “By protecting yourself against flu, you not only set an example to colleagues and peers but also help to continue providing high quality compassionate care to those we care for.”
The letter also includes an information section designed to “dispel any misconceptions” nurses might have over the benefits of the jab and its safety and efficacy.
The most common reasons for not having the jab, it said, were that nurses thought infection control practices were sufficient to avoid catching flu or that a good diet and vitamin supplements worked at least as well as the vaccine.
A record number of NHS staff were vaccinated against flu last winter, but uptake remained less than half of the frontline workforce at 45.6%. Uptake across trusts varied from below 10% to above 90%, according to NHS Employers, which runs the annual “flu fighter” campaign.
It has asked flu leads to communicate the letter and clinical evidence to all staff by “displaying the information on notice boards or printing and sending a copy to all staff”.
Earlier this month ministers said acute trusts applying for a share of a £250m fund for easing accident and emergency pressures must ensure at least 75% of staff have been vaccinated this year.
Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.