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Nurses shun swine flu jab


Almost 60 per cent of NHS frontline staff did not have the swine flu jab over the winter, despite a strong campaign to encourage nurses and other NHS workers to get vaccinated.

Department of Health figures show that 40.4 per cent of healthcare workers were given the H1N1 swine influenza jab this winter, and a letter jointly signed by Chief Nursing Officer Dame Christine Beasley, has admitted:  “We need to see further improvement in increasing their immunisation rates”.

Figures are not yet available on take up amongst individual professions but the overall results tally closely with a Nursing Times survey last August which found a third of nurses were not planning to have the vaccine.

Dame Christine’s letter to directors of nursing, lead nurses at PCTs and others, said the CNO, the Chief Medical Officer and others are working on a report for NHS Trusts that will include the lessons learned from last year’s swine flu vaccination programme.

Royal College of Nursing head of nursing Steve Jamieson, said the RCN and other organisations had worked hard to encourage nurses to have the jab, and he said the number of staff who had been vaccinated was “a success”, but admitted that he hoped for a higher uptake if the vaccine was required again.

“My guess would be that a large proportion of these healthcare workers who have been vaccinated will be nurses,” he said.

“There was lots of scaremongering about the vaccine not being tested, but we know that the number of people with side effects was very low. We spent a lot of time letting members know the importance of receiving the jab for themselves and for their patients.”


Readers' comments (8)

  • The chief nursing officer should be proud, not disappointed, that her widely read, degree educated nursing fraternity did not all rush like sheep to be vaccinated. Latest evidence demonstrates that mass vaccination was not required and indeed wasted a huge amount of money that could have gone to other areas. I admit it is easy to be wise in retrospect but many of us did feel a great unease about this vaccine. I personally knew of three people who were very ill afterwards because the vaccine had been given when they were already had cold like symptoms but were informed that it would not affect them adversely. If you educate the masses then do not be surprised when they no not follow unquestionably directives from above.

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  • My husband has a lung condition and his specialist said he could not advise him to have the H1N1 swine jab, because he, the specialist did not know what was in it! So if he was not informed of the contents, why should others blindly go ahead.

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  • I agree with Anonymous | 8-Jun-2010 8:04 am, not many nurses in my hospital accepted the invitation to receive the vaccination, depite threats that if you developed the illness then you would be disciplined. The general feeling was that it was a rush job by the government and the rigorous testing of othere drugs had not been carried out. As has been said here, don't educate nurses to think independently using research and evidence based practice and be surprised when they think and act contrary to senior management. Well done to those nusrses who had the courage to think for themselves.

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  • The fact that nurses are human beings with rights and minds of their own has been lost amongst the ridiculous expectations, pressures etc of the job today. If a patient has the right to refuse the swine flu vac, then why not us? NURSES ARE PEOPLE TOO!

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  • Appalling chapter in vaccine history. WHO have now been discredited as the scientists producing the vaccine did not declare their interests when advising WHO to recommend it to the world. They stood to gain a great deal of money from the vaccine sales. The fact that the research itself has not stood up in the real world is separate and adds to the lack of understanding of human health and disease.

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  • neither btw does research stand up for the accepted effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccine. recent research has strongly suggested that it predisposes a susceptibility to it and other flu's such as SF.

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  • I didn't have a swine flu jab because I was told there were none left in my trust, despite the fact that admin staff in non clinical areas had had the vaccine!!

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  • Several in my clinical area, who had this jab, were poorly afterwards. I chose not to firstly as there was no guarantee that having the jab would prevent the disease and, secondly, I didn't want to be poorly. I have no underlying health conditions and had had flu before. Although tinged with guilt incase I infected one of my patients, the hospitals attitude to moving the patients around the hospital was so haphazard that it was all a bit of a shambles anyway. If we have a second wave I will make my decision on the evidence to hand; that having it will have a positive benifit to either me, or my patients.

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