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

Vaccine side effects top of nurses' concerns about flu jab


Concerns about side effects and efficacy remain the two most frequent reasons for nurses refusing the flu vaccine, according to researchers.

As a result of their findings, the study authors said future flu vaccination campaigns aimed at nurses and other healthcare workers should be reviewed to address common misconceptions and misgivings.

The study was a joint partnership between the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King’s College London and the Second Military Medical University of Shanghai in China.

They surveyed 522 qualified nurses attending continuing professional development courses in London between 18 April and 18 October 2010.

Participants were asked a series of questions about their level of knowledge about flu and the vaccine. They were also asked for their vaccination history and for their reasons for accepting or refusing the vaccine.

Of those surveyed, 37% reported receiving seasonal influenza vaccination in the previous season and 45% reported never being vaccinated during the last five years.

When asked why they had not had the vaccine, the majority of unvaccinated respondents highlighted concerns about vaccine side effects, 63%, or a belief that there was no need to have it, 56%.

A further 36% cited concerns about the effectiveness or safety of the vaccine, 16% cited organisational reasons, such as having no time or it was difficult to access vaccination, while 9% said they disliked, or had a fear, of injections.

The survey results compare with official Department of Health figures for uptake during the 2010-11 flu season, published in September, which showed 34.7% of frontline NHS staff received the vaccination in England – but just 30% of nurses.

Provisional figures for the present flu season suggest an improvement this year. At the end of November around 29% of frontline staff had been vaccinated, compared to 11% by the same point in 2010. This is the first flu season that NHS Employers has run a campaign specifically targeting uptake among health workers.

Study author Ian Norman, associate dean for staff development at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “Since concerns about the vaccine’s side effects and effectiveness were the two most common reasons given for refusing the vaccine, future campaigns must focus on targeting information to dispel these widespread myths.”

Fellow author Alison While, professor of community nursing and associate dean of education at the school, added: “There is a clear group of ‘persistent decliners’ who are in the ‘habit’ of not having the vaccination. Campaigns will therefore need to be persistent, durative and intensive.”

The study has been published in three journals Vaccine, the International Journal of Nursing Studies, and Epidemiology and Infection.


Readers' comments (12)

  • Aren't those the reasons members of the public typically avoid the flu jab ?

    And for several of those reasons, are not the public told that 'the evidence shows your concern/belief to be unfounded' ?

    And doesn't 'evidence-based behaviour' imply that clinicians, including nurses, are supposed to believe 'best evidence' for professional reasons ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • it seems we need evidence to demonstrate that all concerns/beliefs are unfounded.

    Last night talking to a group of 'at risk' residents in a home for the elderly and socially underprivileged I was surprised to learn of the experiences some had had following the 'flu vaccine over several years and the very valid reasons of others for their refusal of others to have the vaccination.
    As for myself, having entered from a low to a high-risk group last week with my 65th birthday, it will require further evidence of the lack of harm and serious reflection on my part if and when I accept these winter flu vaccinations.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • sorry repeated 'of others' twice in above comment - the second one should be omitted.

    when are NT going to introduce the edit option after submission as well as the recommend and reply options?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I've had a flu jab regularly during the time it has been offered in the NHS. During that time I have had true flu twice, once as a young, fitter student nurse, and again about three years ago - but then I was in the throws of developing a brain tumour at the time, probably had a compromised immune system. The point I'm making is that I'll always seek immunisation, especially now I've entered a high risk group at the age of 40. No vaccine is going to have 100% efficacy, but then the perceived side effects are often not side effects at all - usually coincidence.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Jonathan, the side effects are not coincidence at all. If people have a vaccine with toxic chemical adjuvants, including a mercury based substance injected into them, it is no surprise that they have unpleasant side effects. I would not want to have these substances injected into me year after year; the long term effects of these are not yet known.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • George Kuchanny

    My take on this is so. Vaccinate against stable pathogens. The risk/benefit is clear.

    Do not bother with ones that mutate swiftly (like flu) because the risk of vaccination, admittedly fairly small, is not balanced by knowing 100% that the vaccine is going to help your immune system identify the strain you may aquire. And yes anon 20 Dec 5:41, some adjuvants are nastier than they should be. Lets hope Big Pharma sort this problem out.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another problem possibly with the vaccine is it shows the immunity to bacteria is lowered by the vaccine. So in effect one trades 'the flu' for sepsis ?
    "A central figure behind the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) claims disputing the link between vaccines and autism and other neurological disorders has disappeared after officials discovered massive fraud involving the theft of millions in taxpayer dollars. Danish police are investigating Dr. Poul Thorsen, who has vanished along with almost $2 million that he had supposedly spent on research."

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • the mantra when i was taught invasive procedures: "if in doubt, leave it out!"

    the "best evidence" i've been made aware of is confounded by a self selection bias. before even getting it the people most likely to seek the jab are the least likely to suffer flu mortality or morbidity.

    i'm not about to give up my mantra for some vague correlation.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • from Anonymous | 20-Dec-2011 12:30 pm
    good comments on here. Nothing else to add at the moment except


    and stick to your principles until they are proven (underlined) wrong.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The fact that we are asked to sign a waiver prior to the flu injection is enough of a red flag for me even if i didn't know anything else about the vacs..such as all the poisons they contain.

    It is also concerning that every year my co-workers that fall victim to the flu were immunized. So far those of us who have never had the jab have also NOT had the flu....thank God.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results 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.