NHS and social care workforce urged to get free flu jab as soon as possible

NHS and social care staff are being urged to “do their bit” and have a flu jab as the health service ramps up its preparations for winter.

In a letter to all frontline workers in England, leaders including Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, and NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said it was “now more important than ever that we act to protect ourselves, our teams, our families and patients from getting flu”.

NHS chiefs want staff to have their annual free flu jab as soon as possible, as the first vaccine deliveries start to reach local employers this week.

Social care workers are also eligible to get a free flu vaccination from a GP or pharmacist, with pharmacists also visiting care homes to vaccinate staff.

The letter pointed to the fact seasonal flu and Covid-19 will be circulating at the same time this winter, adding: “We strongly urge you to take up the offer of free vaccination against flu as soon as possible; and to remind your patients to get their vaccine.”

Flu virus spreads from person to person “even amongst those not showing any symptoms”, while also contributing to staff sickness rates, it added.

“As we all know, flu can have serious and even fatal consequences, especially for our most vulnerable patients, such as young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

“Therefore, vaccination of healthcare workers is a critical part of the NHS’s flu prevention strategy.”

Last winter, around three-quarters of NHS staff were vaccinated against flu but NHS England is hoping to increase this figure even further.

The letter said: “We all have a shared professional responsibility to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients this winter.

“So, let’s all do our bit and take this important step to protect our patients, those we care for and ourselves.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “This year has seen an incredible effort from our doctors, our nurses, our carers and everyone working on the frontline to protect us from coronavirus.

“Now getting a free flu jab this winter will protect them, as well as their patients and the people they care for, at a critical time for our country.”

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