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COVID-19: survey finds nursing staff divided on whether to have flu jab

Some say patient safety comes first, others fear bad reaction to vaccine

Some say patient safety comes first, others fear bad reaction to vaccine

Nursing staff who responded to a survey are divided on whether to have the flu jab in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nursing Standard survey explored the impact of the pandemic on UK nursing staffs health and well-being.

There were 1,661 responses, and topics covered included mental and physical health, and the flu vaccine.

Survey explored uptake of flu jab

Participants were asked if they would be prompted to have the flu vaccination this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 1,567 people who responded to this question, 1,144

Some say patient safety comes first, others fear bad reaction to vaccine

Picture: Alamy

Nursing staff who responded to a survey are divided on whether to have the flu jab in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nursing Standard survey explored the impact of the pandemic on UK nursing staff’s health and well-being.

There were 1,661 responses, and topics covered included mental and physical health, and the flu vaccine.

Survey explored uptake of flu jab

Participants were asked if they would be prompted to have the flu vaccination this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 1,567 people who responded to this question, 1,144 (73%) said it was not applicable to them as they normally have the flu jab.

Of the 423 who said they do not normally have the flu jab, 191 (45%) said they will have it this year because of the pandemic. Some respondents indicated that this was in the interests of patient safety.

However, 232 respondents (55%) said they will not have the flu vaccination despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Some said this was because of a previous bad reaction.

Mixed views on flu jab among survey respondents

One respondent said: ‘I feel that it is better to take it especially with COVID-19 still around and I work with vulnerable people.’

Another said: ‘Will try it again this year, more likely due to COVID.’

However, one participant said: ‘Due to having had COVID-19 and bilateral pneumonia post infection from COVID-19 I will have the flu jab, but have been advised to ensure my immune status is checked first to ensure I do not have a severe reaction to the flu jab.’

Conversely, some respondents said they did not want the flu vaccine because they want to gain ‘natural immunity’ or because they have had a bad reaction to the jab in the past.

One said: ‘Very wary of flu jab making me very ill again so no, I will not have the flu jab despite COVID-19.’


RCN says flu vaccine is vital ‘with the double threat of flu and COVID-19’

Jude Diggins

Responding to the findings, RCN deputy director of nursing Jude Diggins said it was encouraging to see so many nursing staff say they would have the flu vaccine.

She added: ‘It’s vital that nursing staff have the flu vaccine as early as possible, to help protect themselves and those around them, including their families and patients.

‘With the double threat of flu and COVID-19 this year, this message is more important than ever.’

Ms Diggins also said it is vital that organisations make the flu vaccine available and easy to access for staff as uptake increases.

Government figures show flu vaccination on the rise

Earlier this year, Public Health England revealed that 74.3% of front-line NHS staff in England had the flu vaccination between 1 September 2019 and 29 February 2020. This was an increase from 2018/19 when the figure was 70.3%.

The Nursing Standard survey was carried out between 11 and 19 October. It was promoted to nursing staff in the UK via social media, a news story and email, and was carried out online via Survey Monkey. There were seven questions, and the responses were analysed by a member of the Nursing Standard news team.


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