The first indication of healthcare worker uptake of the annual flu vaccine is now online.
Latest vaccination figures show 32.4% of frontline healthcare workers had influenza vaccinations in September and October 2015.
Figures published today (19 November 2015) by Public Health England (PHE), show that more than 312,000 frontline healthcare workers in England had a flu vaccination in September and October this year.
This compares to 36.8% of workers who were vaccinated in the same period in 2014 to 2015, and 35% of workers in 2013 to 2014.
Flu experts warn that more workers need to take up the vaccine to help protect themselves and vulnerable patients this winter and help save lives, while keeping NHS services running as normal.
Hospital surveillance in 2014 to 2015 reported a total of 1,187 admissions to intensive care and high dependency units due to lab confirmed flu across England, and 8.4% of these resulted in death.
The annual campaign to drive up NHS staff vaccination rates is called flu fighter (@NHSflufighter, #flufighter). Run by NHS Employers and supported by the Department of Health and PHE, flu fighter is once again providing employers with all the resources they need to help their staff run lively local campaigns which promote vaccinations, answer questions and improve access to them. Flu fighter is now in its fifth year and has helped the NHS to increase frontline staff flu vaccinations from 359,080 (34.7%) in 2010 to 2011 to 541,757 (54.9%) by the end of last winter.
This year, for the first time, NHS Employers is also working with the residential care sector to identify how flu vaccination can become routine for care workers, identifying both challenges and examples of good practice. A tailored set of campaign materials has been made available.
Dr. Richard Pebody, head of flu surveillance for PHE, said:
People with certain long-term health conditions are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu and sadly, many end up in hospital.
The latest figures reinforces the need for annual flu vaccination among key groups including health and social care workers to help protect both themselves, but also vulnerable patients that they might look after, who are at greater risk of the serious consequences of flu. This together with good respiratory infection control measures are important in preventing the spread of flu which can cause illness and disruption in hospitals and care homes.
Professor Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said:
Flu kills. For many people it’s an unpleasant illness, but for the most vulnerable in society it is extremely dangerous and can be lethal.
All NHS staff have a duty to get the flu vaccine to protect their patients from infection. So far, more than 300,000 NHS staff have had their flu jab, and I urge those who have not yet done so to get vaccinated now.
Ruth Warden, assistant director of development and employment, NHS Employers, said:
This year is the fight-back against flu. Local flu fighter teams, consisting mainly of volunteers, are doing fantastic work to help and inspire their NHS colleagues to get vaccinated. They know it’s a life-saver and that it can help staff stay fit during the busiest time of year. NHS Employers is committed to supporting them and continuing to grow the successful flu fighter campaign.