More than a million frontline workers have been told to protect themselves and their patients.
England’s most senior nurse is spearheading this year’s drive to ensure as many NHS staff as possible are vaccinated against seasonal flu.
The drive is to both reduce sickness over the busy winter period and minimise the viruses’ routes of transmission to vulnerable patients.
Last year, a record 70% of doctors, nurses, midwives, and other NHS staff who are in direct contact with patients took up the vaccine through their employer, with many local NHS employers recording an uptake of 75% or higher.
Since September, healthcare providers across the country have organised special activities designed to highlight the importance of having the vaccine.
A serious impact.
Ruth May, England’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), has been joined by the heads of other professions in writing an open letter to all NHS asking them to work together in order to achieve an even higher level of coverage this year.
In the letter they urge every member of the NHS’ growing frontline workforce to work together to achieve even higher level of coverage this year.
Ruth said; “Each and every one of us who works or has worked on the front line – whether in hospitals, GP surgeries, ambulance trusts or in the community – knows that every winter flu has a serious impact on the health of thousands of people.
“Getting your free, quick jab is the single most effective way of preventing the flu, so my message to my colleagues is simple: let’s do our duty, and take this easy but important step to protect our patients, and ourselves, this winter.”
Using small incentives.
Without the vaccination, frontline healthcare workers are at the highest risk of catching seasonal flu due to their contact with patients – passing on the virus to vulnerable people they come into contact with.
Overall uptake levels have increased every year since 2015/16, but there is variation from trust to trust with the more successful hospitals employing innovative methods to reach staff.
Some trusts have organised roving clinics and using small incentives, such as badge stickers, to reinforce positive messages.
Organisations with the lowest uptake levels last winter have been required to buddy up with high-performing trusts to learn from their success, and to report their progress weekly to ensure it is given the priority it deserves.