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Just one in five frontline staff are vaccinated against flu - are you?

  • 55 Comments

A “disappointingly low” proportion of NHS staff took up the flu vaccinations this winter, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has said.

Only 20 per cent of frontline staff had taken up the vaccinations for seasonal flu and the H1N1 strain, Sir David said today. Although that represents an improvement on last winter when just 18.3 per cent of relevant staff arranged to be vaccinated, Sir David said he wanted to see the figure much higher next year.

Have you been vaccinated? Answer our poll at right

Health Protection Agency figures released today show the number of deaths from the various flu strains has risen to 50, up from the 38 reported last week.

In the week ending 26 December, there had been 98.4 incidents of influenza and influenza like illnesses (ILI) reported per 100,000 people in England, compared with 52 in Scotland, which represented a decrease from the previous week in both countries. Wales remained stable on 89.2 per 100,000 but there was an increase to 179.5 in Northern Ireland.

NHS interim chief medical officer Sally Davies said overall ILI incidence rates were “beginning to plateau”.

Sir David Nicholson’s comments on the rate of NHS staff who have been vaccinated came as figures suggested there had been an increase in NHS staff sickness absences over December.

Data extrapolated from 27,000 NHS staff across 22 NHS trusts by the company FirstCare, which helps organisations reduce their sickness absence rates, suggested that there were a total 366,180 staff days lost to flu like illness over the month of December 2010.

That compares with 243,593 lost days in December 2009 – an increase of 50 per cent. There were 55,600 absences between the January 4 and 6 – up by 6,000 on the same period in 2009. Flu-like symptoms accounted for 17 per cent of all absences in December and January compared with 11 per cent in the same period last year.

However, nurse managers told Nursing Times their departments had not suffered from high absences and Sir David said the NHS was “coping well”.

  • 55 Comments

Readers' comments (55)

  • There needs to be far more clarity and guidelines on prophylaxis and treatment of the different strains of 'flu viruses and the choices and types of vaccines available with information on the safety of their administration to include side-effects, interactions, etc. and the risk groups so that individuals can make well informed decisions. It should also be clear who is qualified to administer these vaccines and who is paying for them as it seems they are now administered over the counter in chemist shops and supermarkets such as Boots!

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  • im a student nurse who this year was not offered the vaccine and I assumed as I got it the year before while I was on the wrd that I would be offered it as I am also on the front line. No such luck after being exposed to all sorts without the correct masks on the ward I have made a app with my own nure instead. not good enough in my opinion

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  • looks like a serious case of negligence and careless by employers. This demonstrates management failure in their duty to value and care for their staff or students working in their establishment. Human resources are the largest, most valuable and most costly asset in any organisation and especially on the scale of the NHS.

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  • MANAGEMENT FAILURE
    looks like a serious case of negligence and careless by employers. This demonstrates management failure in their duty to value and care for their staff or students working in their establishment. Human resources are the largest, most valuable and most costly asset in any organisation and especially on the scale of the NHS.

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  • from above

    furthermore it is a lack of commonsense. if staff get flu they can spread it to their vulnerable patients and pass it on to their colleagues creating staff shortages. such poor management doesn't add up. are there no brains in the higher echelons?

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  • We are always offered the flu jab by the PCT and I've always taken advantage of it and have been protected. It isn't always the fault of 'management', colleagues of mine won't have the flu jab and come up with a variety of excuses and reasons not to have it and some of them are them off sick with flu! As health professionals, we should be setting an example, we should be protecting ourselves and we should be protecting the vulnerable people we work with. Being offered the flu jab and not taking up the offer, in my view amounts to negligence.

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  • I have no desire what so ever to take advantage of the flu vaccination. I think there needs to be more information regarding side affect ect first. Also is it really necessary for all nurses to have this? I dont believe in putting anything in my body without knowing exactly what it is! I was offered this vaccination recently and when i asked the nurse who was giving it to me what was in it she did not know! It did not fill me with confidence! I will take my chances with the flu!

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  • Several of the responses above typify the normal reaction of nurses to this type of story - "it's always someone else's fault." There really is plenty of high-quality information on flu vaccination available if you take the initiative to look for it - try NHS Choices, for example. If you ask your occupational health service they should be able to provide the Patient Information Leaflet for the vaccine which will give you plenty of information on side effects, interactions, etc. It's part of our job as nurses to be able to understand and interpret this information in order to make informed choices or to help our patients to do this.

    As a student it may well not be the responsibility of the hospital you have your placement at to vaccinate you - it certainly wasn't in my case - check with your school of nursing.

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  • that just makes a pig's ear of the whole situation. there should be clear guidelines for all healthcare workers. who has the time to go sifting through all the masses of diverse information to find all the arguments before and against vaccination. by the this time and by the time decisions are made it may be too late! Somebody such as the DoH or the employing health authorities must take the lead on recommendations and the responsibility of ensuring all healthcare workers are clearly informed about the vaccines, the risks and the pros and cons and who is responsible for administering them and who is paying the bill.

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  • I haven't had my vaccine yet and it's not because I don't want to but because I haven't been able to. My trust has had two vaccine open days - and run out of vaccine on both occasions. My local GP surgery will only vaccinate at their special 'flu vaccine clinics' but they don't know when the next one will be and there's no guarantee my off duty will correspond - the last few didn't. So I'm in the situation where I WANT to be vaccinated - but can't.

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