For your patients’ sake, get the flu jab, senior official urges health workers

Deputy chief medical officer says nurses and front-line colleagues have a ‘strong responsibility’ to accept vaccination

Deputy chief medical officer says nurses and front-line colleagues have a ‘strong responsibility’ to accept vaccination

Nurses and fellow healthcare workers have a 'very strong professional responsibility' to get the winter flu jab, a senior government official said.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said some areas had reported staff uptake rates that dipped below half last year. 

Flu can be asymptomatic and spread unwittingly

Professor Van-Tam commented: 'We do know that flu infections, while sometimes severe, can also be asymptomatic, and staff can spread flu without realising it.

'From a patient perspective, you don't want to feel that seven out of 10 of the healthcare professionals you meet will be vaccinated; you'd like to be in a situation where nine or 10 out of 10 you meet are vaccinated.

'So there's a very, very strong professional responsibility on healthcare workers to be vaccinated.'

Risks of putting staff under pressure to have the flu jab 

Unison warned that pressurising staff to have the jab would be counterproductive.

Employers are required to offer all their front-line health and social care workers the jab.

And Professor Van-Tam noted the overall rate is 'improving remarkably', with 70% receiving the vaccination last season – up from 50.6% in 2015-16.

Nurses’ opinions are split on compulsory flu vaccination in the workforce

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam’s comments come after a Nursing Standard poll found nurses were divided on whether flu jabs should become mandatory for NHS staff.

Employers with the lowest workforce immunisation rates are to be required to collaborate with those with higher uptake, to learn from best practice.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said no NHS worker would ever willingly put patients or colleagues at risk, adding: 'The highest vaccination rates are in trusts that encourage staff to get the jab, not those where employees are coerced.

'Pressuring staff to have the injection, when some may be reluctant for genuine reasons, is counterproductive. The NHS couldn't get by without the goodwill of its staff, and trusts should not wish to jeopardise that.'

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