Healthcare staff who work with patients are being urged to have the flu jab to help protect themselves, their families and their patients as flu season approaches. The vaccination is provided free by employers to frontline NHS staff who come into regular contact with patients to help keep them flu free and reduce the risk of spread amongst their family and patients.
The drive to raise awareness of the vaccination comes as the NHS prepares for winter. As the temperature drops, the number of people with coughs, colds, flu, slips and trips, all increase which put extra pressure on the NHS. Staff are vital for ensuring the NHS is able to cope with that extra demand and continue to provide the excellent service that the public expects.
David Walker, Director of Public Health at NHS Midlands and East said: “We need to practise what we preach. We expect the public in ‘at risk’ groups - over 65s, pregnant women, those with long term health conditions and carers - to have the free flu vaccination and we need to make sure we take it up too. Healthcare professionals come into contact with people whose health is compromised and who, should they get flu, are most at risk of complications. We want to reduce our patients’ chances of ending up in hospital.
There are a number of myths surrounding the flu jab which may have discouraged staff from getting their flu vaccination.
David explains: “Many people think those in good health don’t need to worry about seasonal flu. The fact is anyone can catch it. Some people believe you can catch flu from the jab. This can’t happen as there’s no live virus in the vaccine. At worst a small minority will experience a slight soreness around the site of the injection and occasionally some aching of muscles or a slightly raised temperature. These symptoms should go away after a couple of days and are a lot less serious than actually having flu.
“There’s a perception that the flu jab isn’t safe. The risk of having a serious (anaphylactic) reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is less than one in a million. It is much less than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself. Egg-free vaccinations are also available for those allergic to hen’s eggs.
Staff who would like to be vaccinated against flu should speak with their line manager.