DoH urges GPs to be vaccinated against flu

The DoH has called for more health workers to be vaccinated against seasonal flu, as figures show uptake rose last winter.

The number of healthcare workers being vaccinated against flu rose from 26.4% in winter 2009/10 to 34.7% in 2010/11.

GPs (38.2%) and practice nurses (42.5%) had the highest proportion of vaccinations among healthcare workers.

Just 37% of doctors excluding GPs and 30% of hospital nurses and midwives were vaccinated.

CMO Dame Sally Davies said: ‘NHS staff face increased pressure over winter, especially if there is a severe flu season.

'They keep the NHS running and it is vital that they protect themselves, their patients and families from the potentially serious effects of flu that they are exposed to over the winter period.'

She added: ‘It is never too early to start thinking about flu. So as NHS staff return from their holidays, I urge them to plan ahead and get vaccinated.’

Dr Maureen Baker, health protection lead at the RCGP, said: 'We always encourage GPs to have the seasonal flu jab, so as to protect the service at critical times and to protect vulnerable patients. We fully support the CMOs call for healthcare workers to be vaccinated.'

Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, said: 'It is critical that we all do more to increase the vaccination rates, which is in the interests of patients and staff. Flu exacts a major price on the NHS and its patients, however we have the means to reduce its impact so let's take advantage of that.'

Figures for at-risk groups show overall uptake among at-risk groups remains around the same level as winter 2009/10.

Uptake was 72.8% among the over 65s and 50.4% among those at-risk aged six months to 65-years. Both rates were stationary compared to the previous year.

The largest increase was seen among infants aged six months to two years in at-risk groups were vaccinated, up from 16.5% in 2009/10 to 25.2% last winter.

Uptake among pregnant women was 38%. Last winter was the first time all pregnant women were invited for the seasonal flu jab. Among at-risk pregnant women, 56.6% were vaccinated.

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