Figures show only small rise in flu vaccination uptake in England this winter

RCN reminds nurses of their ‘professional responsibility’ to help protect patients

RCN reminds nurses of their ‘professional responsibility’ to help protect patients

Picture: Tim George

Nurses are being reminded of their ‘professional responsibility’ to have the flu vaccination, as the latest figures show only a small rise in uptake among NHS healthcare workers.

The RCN said some trusts could do more to increase uptake.

Public Health England figures show a 1.9% increase in flu vaccine uptake among healthcare staff in the four months to 31 December last year, compared with the same period in 2017.

Variation between trusts is high

This brings the flu vaccination rate for this period in 2018 to 65.8% of all NHS staff, and means about 17,039 more workers received the vaccine than in the previous year. By the end of last winter, 68.7% of front-line healthcare workers in England had received the flu vaccination.

However, variation is high. In the worst performing trusts, fewer than 30% of staff have been vaccinated.

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said: ‘Getting a flu vaccination is a professional responsibility for all healthcare staff, and it’s positive to see a slight increase in uptake.

The RCN’s Helen Donovan: ‘Trusts
can do more.’  Picture: Barney Newman

‘Vaccination is key to preventing infection in healthcare settings and, through prevention, reducing the reliance on antibiotics as a result of secondary infections frequently associated with flu.

‘As well as protecting patients, staff vaccination protects workers’ families, even when they are not displaying symptoms themselves.’

Offer incentives

Ms Donovan added that some trusts need to address poor uptake: ‘There is more others can do to change the organisational culture, such as offering internal incentives.’

Last autumn, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSI) recommended that employers redeploy staff who had not had the vaccination, to ensure vulnerable patients were not put at risk of contracting flu.

It is not yet known whether any trusts followed this controversial advice and redeployed unvaccinated nurses working in ‘high risk’ areas. NHSI has previously said organisations will not respond on this issue until February.


In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.