Almost half of doctors, nurses and clinical staff at Ipswich Hospital refuse flu jab
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Doctors and nurses who refuse to have the flu jab could be banned from treating patients, the NHS has warned.
The warning comes as it was revealed that 43% of frontline health care staff at Ipswich Hospital Trust failed to be vaccinated against the flu last winter, despite the fact it was the worst flu season in a decade.
Statistics from Public Health England show that 1,731 of the 3,996 doctors, nurses and clinical staff at the trust, who have direct patient contact, did not get the flu vaccine between September, 2017 and February, 2018.
Nationally, 31% of frontline staff did not take up the offer of vaccination.
In response to the figures, a spokesman from the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “Every year we strongly encourage all our staff to have a flu jab to protect themselves, their patients, their families and all our communities.
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“We try and make it as easy as possible for everyone to have the flu jab by going to places where people work, individual wards and departments.
“We also run drop-in sessions at different times and at weekends as our staff work around the clock.
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“We fully support the idea of making sure that as many staff as possible, particularly frontline clinical staff, do choose to get the vaccination.”
Flu jabs are not currently mandatory for hospital staff but the NHS has issued warnings to trusts, stating that staff who refuse the jab could be banned from treating patients.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “We need to understand why vaccination rates vary so much between different health organisations.
“Some struggle to get teams who are trained to administer the jab to staff working in remote or varied locations.”
“Health-care staff may choose not to get the jab for fear of allergic reactions, or a phobia around needles.”
The NHS have also stated that making the vaccination near-universal is key to protecting patients in higher-risk clinical environments, like neonatal intensive care and cancer wards, and to crucially limit their exposure to unvaccinated staff.
According to the NHS up to 50% of people with the flu may not even know they have it and the virus can be life threatening to patients with weakened immune systems or respiratory problems.
Those who are pregnant, aged 65 plus, receive a carer’s allowance, are in care or care for someone who is elderly or disabled, or have a heart problem, are eligible for a free jab.
Find out more about flu and flu vaccinations here.