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Nurses urged to have flu vaccine

GP practice nurses are more likely to protect themselves against the flu virus than GPs, hospital nurses and midwives, new figures from the Department of Health show.

The latest seasonal flu vaccine uptake reports show 42.5% of GP practices nurses chose to have the seasonal flu jab last winter. This is compared to 30% of hospital nurses, 38.2% of GPs and 37% of hospital doctors.

The overall number of healthcare workers opting for the vaccine increased from 26.4% in the winter of 2009 to 34.7% in 2010.

NHS staff are being urged by a plethora of organisations to up vaccine numbers and ensure they are protecting themselves as well as their patients.

"I hope these figures will provide a reminder for all healthcare professionals to start thinking about flu now and plan when they will get vaccinated this year," said Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

The 'National NHS Staff Seasonal Flu Vaccination Campaign' will bring together the NHS Employers organisation, unions and the Department of Health in a bid to maximise support for the flu vaccination.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said the campaign will use a variety of methods such as leaflets, mythbusters, posters and Twitter and Facebook in order to reach as many NHS workers as possible, including community nurses.

UNISON head of nursing, Gail Adams, has emphasised the importance of the vaccine and said that by the flu jab coming to staff - and not the other way around - it is "vital that staff make the time to get vaccinated".

NHS Employers

We asked why you think it is that more NHS staff are not having the flu vaccine? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Last year when promoting staff flu jabs some of the pharmacists said 'no way.' Very interesting!" - Nurse Nancy

"Everyone, be they patient or health professional has a choice as to whether or not they are vaccinated. Clear facts should be presented and the individual allowed to make an informed decision. The 'emotional blackmail' techniques which have been increasingly resorted to by the government and health service managers are unacceptable" - Maudy, London

"We are now seeing the fallout of vaccine related illnesses, and no clear non-political impartial evidence that vaccines actually worthwhile on balance with side-effects. Shame on UNISON for getting involved, you are there to defend our rights and NOT to jump on the bandwagon" - Oliver Foster

"Because we have FREE choice, thankfully we do not live in a police state!! We are adult and can listen to advice and make our own choice" - Pauline Filby, Chelmsford