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Staff flu vaccine views criticised


The government’s head of immunisation has criticised the attitude of nurses and frontline NHS staff towards vaccination.

Department of Health director of immunisation Professor David Salisbury was responding to questions about the low take-up of the seasonal flu vaccine, after the figures showed just 26% of frontline NHS workers had received it.

Professor Salisbury told Nursing Times there were “cultural issues” among healthcare workers “about vaccination that have got to be dealt with”.

He said: “You still hear health workers saying: ‘I didn’t have it because it gave me flu when I had it some years ago’, which we know it can’t do, and: ‘Oh, I had the most terribly sore arm’.

“Well maybe they did, but it may also save your life and it may also save someone else’s life. We have got to be better at communicating why they need to be vaccinated. It has not proved easy so far.”


Readers' comments (12)

  • I just love our ability to have personal choice in the NHS

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  • what has it to do with culture?

    if Salisbury is going to criticize - why not make it compulsory for all - end of story?!

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  • NO it must not be compulsory. David Salisbury is part of a government that wants to tell us all what to do all the time. All of the governments like to do that; not just this one. It is a personal choice, and the vaccine is not without risk; something the government likes to keep quiet about. A paramedic had the swine flu jab last year and ended up with Transverse myelitis as a result. It has ruined her career and her life.

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  • I am a nurse by training and a Consultant in Public Health in a PCT. In the last two weeks I have dealt with a child and two young adults in their 20’s who died from H1N1. I would urge any nurse in the front line to get vaccinated. If you are an evidence based practitioner, look at the science and not opinionated websites. As Florence stated, nurses should do no harm – vaccination is the most effective form of prevention.

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  • to Anonymous | 25-Jan-2011 2:48 pm

    from 10:18 am

    you may have missed my tone of sarcasm! i don't know whether the government could make the vaccine compulsory but i certainly would not agree, except that as they are not able to provide sufficient accurate information to argue for this course of action and convince nurses of the safety and necessity of the vaccine it would be the easiest solution (cop out) for them in the light of all the present controversy!

    as a nurse I consider it my responsibility to give colleagues, friends and patients, and other members of public who ask my advice, the best information available but I would not advise for or against the vaccine in view of the fact that they have not yet been sufficiently researched and in view of serious adverse effects which have been reported. even though these may be uncommon we need more concrete evidence and statistics on safety. also everybody needs to understand all the different strains of flu and the different types of vaccines before giving an informed opinion to others or making their own personal decision. we are not talking about one single entity here and this may be the source of much of the disagreement amongst nurses.

    Personally I am against pumping chemicals into a healthy immune system and
    I do not feel that nurses should be pronouncing judgements on others including their colleagues who do not hold the same views as them and holding them as irresponsible for not having the vaccine, this only demonstrates rigidity in their thinking, a lack of thorough knowledge of the subject and a lack of respect for other points of vies.

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  • I must admit I am very sceptical at the governments push for everyone (almost) to have the flu vaccine. I also agree with the above statement that serious adverse events have not been fully researched yet, and what this will do to people's immune systems in the future. Let's not forget that GPs get paid for every vaccine they give and are given targets to fulfill. I believe that the under 5's are not such a target this year (forgive me if I have got that wrong), yet they were last year. If I was a mother, I would worry that my child may have given an immune system chemical last year that they probably didn't need or shouldn't have had. You only have to look at the liberal use of antibiotics in the past, and the superbugs are having to deal with now. I believe using a blame culture on nurses is appalling, which is not supposed to be encouraged in the NHS, and whatever happened to choice? There are deaths from flu every year. I have other strong sceptical thoughts, best kept to myself. However, I would not influence anyone to have or not have the vaccine, I still believe in individual choice.

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  • There are valid points to both sides of this argument of whether to vaccinate or not and at present, and until there is a change in the law, it is only the individual who can make their own choice. The arguments for vaccination appear highly logical but are still not based on sound scientific premises on the safety of the vaccines to the individual. Those who criticise others who have not been vaccinated are arguing to sway opinion on clinially unsound emotional and manipulative grounds.

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  • Anonymous | 31-Jan-2011 3:25 pm, ' until there is a change in the law, it is only the individual who can make their own choice'. Are you expecting a law to be passed to make it compulsory, what sort of society are we to take away choice?

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  • To Anonymous | 4-Feb-2011 10:18 pm

    From Anonymous | 31-Jan-2011 3:25 pm,

    My argument is against nurses in these comments making judgements against those who for whatever reason decide not to be vaccinated. As I said there are many arguments for and against but there as yet no proof of the efficacy and safety of all the different vaccines available for the many strains of 'flu. Until such time as a law is passed (which may not be likely but perhaps not impossible as the government have the power to change laws, which in this case I hope they do not), individuals are free to make their own choice as to what they think best for themselves and in consideration of their responsibility towards others and their patients.

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  • I can't think of any law that exists to enforce medical treatment on anyone (with the exception of certain cases with severe mental health problems, and that is not exactly a 'law'). Let's hope there never is. Haven't had your flu jab? - see you in court.

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