02 / 12 / 2013 Midnight
Almost one-third more frontline NHS staff are having flu vaccinations this year compared to last year, according to the first official figures of winter.
Public Health England reports that 318,335 frontline staff were vaccinated between 1 September and 31 October 2013. This is 75,575 (31 per cent) more than the 242,760 staff vaccinated in the same period last year.
NHS Employers, which runs the national flu fighter campaign to support and increase staff vaccinations, believes the figures mean the NHS in England is on-track for record levels this year, as the NHS gears up for winter.
Flu vaccinations are a cost-effective and life-saving way to protect staff, their families and their patients. The flu season was mild last year but the number of patients with flu who required intensive treatment still increased and, tragically, 107 of those patients (11.3 per cent) in the UK died from it (1).
Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS employers organisation, said:
“This is a great start to the season. Vaccinating over 5,000 staff a day is no mean feat, and as a result it’s very likely that record numbers of NHS staff will have flu vaccinations this year.
“You won’t see having a jab on anyone’s job description. But staff are recognising its role in protecting themselves and their patients and are starting to make it the norm. Social media has played an important part as organisations use Twitter and Facebook to share progress and ideas. It's great to see organisations using this media to engage their staff.
“These nurses, doctors and health professionals all perform crucial roles, often in challenging circumstances, yet they find time to get vaccinated and to inspire others to do so. The imaginative local projects to promote flu vaccinations really have to be seen to be believed and we’re proud to support them.”
Figures published by Public Health England
The proportion of NHS frontline staff in England choosing to be vaccinated has increased from 34.7 per cent in 2011 (when the flu fighter campaign began) to 45.6 per cent for the entire flu season of 2012/13. The latest figures for September-October mean that 35 per cent of staff are already vaccinated compared to 28.4 per cent in September-October in 2012.
GP surgeries, trusts and other organisations have been received flu fighter’s wide range of support material and access to expert advice. Staff flu vaccinations are not mandatory so raising awareness is crucial for combating the virus, which can be fatal to vulnerable patients and disruptive to NHS staff and services.
NHS Employers has continued to use social media to increase awareness of the campaign this year, successfully encouraging trusts to embed #flufighter in flu conversations across the Twitter network. The social media presence of the campaign continues to encourage feedback from employers and staff about the flu vaccination. More information is available at www.nhsemployers.org/flu
and also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nhsflufighter) and Twitter (@NHSflufighter). This year flu fighter has also expanded to support healthcare providers and their staff in Wales.
Notes to Editors
(1) ‘Surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses, including novel respiratory viruses, in the United Kingdom. Winter 2012/13’.