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COVID-19: health staff should be first in line for flu jabs as NHS plans for second wave

Flu vaccinations ‘would ease seasonal pressures if predicted surge occurs’

Flu vaccinations would ease seasonal pressures amid predicted surge in deaths, say healthcare leaders

Warnings that a second COVID-19 wave could result in more than 100,000 deaths this winter have prompted healthcare leaders to stress the importance of flu vaccinations for NHS staff.

NHS Confederation director of international relations Layla McCay said priority flu vaccination for NHS staff could help prevent the health service from being overwhelmed.

Front-line staff to be prioritised in flu vaccine programme

Every effort has to be made to make sure that front-line health and care workers, as well as others in essential roles, are given priority access and that it is as easy as possible for them to be vaccinated,' she said.

This should take precedence over making the scheme mandatory.

Academy of Medical Sciences predicts number of COVID-19 deaths

Flu vaccinations would ease seasonal pressures amid predicted surge in deaths, say healthcare leaders


Picture: Tim George

Warnings that a second COVID-19 wave could result in more than 100,000 deaths this winter have prompted healthcare leaders to stress the importance of flu vaccinations for NHS staff.

NHS Confederation director of international relations Layla McCay said priority flu vaccination for NHS staff could help prevent the health service from being overwhelmed.

Front-line staff to be prioritised in flu vaccine programme

‘Every effort has to be made to make sure that front-line health and care workers, as well as others in essential roles, are given priority access and that it is as easy as possible for them to be vaccinated,' she said.

‘This should take precedence over making the scheme mandatory.’

Academy of Medical Sciences predicts number of COVID-19 deaths 

The issue of mandatory flu vaccinations for NHS staff has previously divided the nursing profession. A Nursing Standard survey of 2,243 nurses in 2019 found that 36% opposed the idea, while 46% were in favour.

A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences suggests that hospitals could see almost 120,000 COVID-19 deaths between September 2020 and June 2021, at the same time as it faces a surge in demand due to the usual winter pressures, including flu cases.

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Flu vaccination is a ‘responsibility’ for nurses, says RCN professional lead

The figure does not take into account possible government interventions to reduce the coronavirus transmission rate, such as lockdowns or the use of the drug dexamethasone in intensive care units, which has been shown to reduce the COVID-19 death rate.

Responding to discussion about this year’s flu vaccination programme, RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said getting a flu vaccination is a ‘professional responsibility for all healthcare staff to prevent the spread of infection in healthcare settings’.


Related material

Academy of Medical Sciences: Preparing for a challenging winter 2020/21


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