Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Is it a student nurse's duty to have the seasonal flu jab?

  • Comments (22)

After having a discussion with my tutor group about public health and health promotion, my tutor decided to canvass some opinion about the seasonal flu jab.

Out of sheer curiosity she wanted to know how many students would be having the inoculation.

I raised my hand and looked around the class expecting to see a large number of the 23 students with their hands in the air. However, to my astonishment, there were only seven - around 30%.

What value for money is the government getting out of the advertising and the publicity surrounding the importance of having the seasonal flu jab? Why was the government spending so much time and resources trying to encourage the elderly and those at risk to have this inoculation, when the group that should be the most receptive and knowledgeable were largely opting out?

The tutor looked dumbfounded as she began to try and find out what the reasons were for people’s decision.

In amongst rumblings of indecision and admissions of from some that they actually hadn’t given it much thought, there were two answers that stuck in my mind.

One student said that she had had the jab one year and more-or-less straight afterward, contracted flu. The common misconception that you are injected with a live virus and that the cure is worse than the disease is more prevalent than I would like admit. My other fellow student said that she knew of somebody who had had the injection and it had led, as a direct result, to her becoming paralysed, and through a fear that the same could happen to her she was not going to risk having the injection.

At the end of our conversation, our tutor asked us what the importance was of having the flu jab.

We concluded that as individuals we may be healthy, fit and able; we may be lucky enough not to succumb to seasonal ailments and afflictions. However, the unfortunate fact is that many people do suffer and as students looking to become nurses, one of the ways in which we can protect our patients is to ensure that we are inoculated against a virus that is potentially fatal.

Finally, what about herd immunity.

We need to have enough of the population inoculated against diseases in order to ensure that the virus cannot have a fertile breeding-ground. Surely the starkest example of when herd immunity fails is the MMR tragedy, where a media propagated scare against the safely of the MMR jab led the concerned parents of middle England to choose not to inoculate their children. As a result, we lost that baseline level of immunity and diseases which we thought a thing of the past began to show up again.

These are my views, but what do you think? Where do you stand? Will you be having the seasonal flu jab?

Adam Roxby is Student Editor of Student Nursing Times. Follow him on Twitter @AdamRoxby

  • Comments (22)

Readers' comments (22)

  • Adam, I know this is aimed at student's but I still feel as a qualified Nurse I have to answer this one.

    No, it is in no way ANY health professional's duty to get an injection, and that view is very pernicious and dangerous. We have the same right to free choice as we would offer to any of our patients, and if an educated health professional looks at and weighs up the clinical evidence for these flu jabs (which by the way is far from conclusive), and they DECIDE to get the jab (as I did), then great. If they DECIDE not to get it based on that, then that is their free choice.

    For our patients, all we can do is offer as much balanced clinical information as we can so they can then make a free informed decision. We have that same right, and NO ONE ever has the right to tell me, or anyone else, that it is our duty to get this or any other injection.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Our management clearly cares more about sickness rates and the cost of using bank/agency staff than whether or not we infected a patient with the flu.

    I agree with Mike, why should I have that injected into me if I don't want it just because I'm a nurse!?!? If they want to pay me to take the injection, then I'd reconsider.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • NHS flu fighter campaign

    Great article Adam and it's good to see the next generation of medical professionals engaging in the debate. It's important that people make their individual decision based on the facts and not the myths. The vaccine does not contain the live virus so it is impossible to catch the flu by getting the jab. To see Dr Phil Hammond busting the most common flu myths visit www.nhsemployers.org/flu

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    I want the vaccination, yet we, student nurses, are not offered it from occupational health. And when inquiring at the GP they tell us to ask occupational health! What are we to do?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Like the previous poster, as students we can't get it from the uni occupational health, the Trust occupational health, or the GP. Each says one of the others is responsible.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Most GP will vaccinate student nurses if you ask the practise nurses.
    Although at my hospital OH are practically chasing you about the building to vaccinate staff. All grades are welcome nurses, porters, doctors and domestic staff.
    For the record no l'm not having the vaccine because l did come down with the flu following the last vaccination l had. Probably something to do with the vaccine not always being the one for the current bug. . .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have had the same problem. Occupational health told me that I should have it, but weren't prepared to give it. I went to my surgery, they also agreed I should have it, but they also won't give it. It's ridiculous really.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    As other students have said, our OH are not offering it, though they do reccomend it.
    I was given it by my practice nurse as I am Asthmatic but would not have been given it otherwise, several students have tried to get it at their GPs and been told no, they do not fall in to any of the categories.
    Some of my fellow students have paid to have it, but I think it should be free, cost should not be a barrier!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As nurses we respect patient choice, and the same applies for us. I work in the community and give flus daily, and always have one too, as I feel for me it's not about employer pressure ( I haven't had a day off sick in 3 years anyway) but it's about protecting myself, my patients, and my family. Most of my colleagues decline the flu every year for the reasons quoted, but that's their choice, too.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • From a personal perspective I think yes you should have it. Anybody who works in health-care with patients with weaker immune systems is not really looking after their patients best interests. Most people have a series of vaccinations when they join nursing, so I don't really by all this my human right baloney in relation to flu vaccines. In some wards I've worked in London if you present with Influenza symptoms your sent home which seems sensible to me. I also think if a patient has a concern that a nurse has a cold they should be entitled to decline care (I would). The bigger question I think that needs answering is: Do the general public think nurses having flu vacancies is mandatory? It would be very interesting to see what they believe...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.