The NHS is calling on its workforce to protect themselves and their patients this year by taking up their free flu jab.
The drive, spearheaded by Ruth May, England’s chief nursing officer, is aiming to help both patients and staff need to take less time off over the busy winter period, as well as making them less likely to pass on the virus to vulnerable patients.
Last year a record 70% of doctors, nurses, midwives and other NHS staff who have direct contact with patients took up the vaccine through their employer, with most local NHS employers achieving 75% or higher vaccination rate.
An open letter has been penned to the organisation’s entire workforce, urging every member of the NHS’ growing frontline to work together to achieve even higher level of coverage this year, as frontline staff are at higher risk of catching flu due to their contact with patients.
Despite half of the infections only resulting in mild or unnoticeable symptoms, those individuals can still pass on the virus to vulnerable people or patients they come into contact with.
“Getting your free, quick jab is the single most effective way of preventing flu” explained Ruth, “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.”
“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.”
Recently published evidence suggests a 10% increase in vaccination may be associated with as much as a 10% fall in sickness absence, and overall uptake levels have increased every year since 2015/16, but there can be variation from trust to trust.