GPs and practice staff are particularly at risk of being exposed to the virus because of their line of work, which sees them regularly interacting with patients seeking help for infections and treatment, Dame Sally told GP.
But she warned GPs could also pose a ‘significant’ risk to patients if they are not immunised and later catch the disease. They would have the potential to infect many at-risk patients, even if they do not show many symptoms themselves.
Dame Sally said: ‘I'd like to see all healthcare workers vaccinated against flu, and that includes GPs and all their staff.’
Recent figures show that just over a third (37%) of all healthcare professionals have been immunised. Dame Sally said this figure ‘absolutely’ had to improve.
Catching and transmitting
The CMO said: ‘GPs and their staff are at risk of catching flu and then transmitting it. I want to keep GPs well so that they don't catch flu from their patients and take it home. I don't want them catching flu and thinking it’s just a bad cold or not realising they've got it and transmitting it to their patients.
‘We know that some people catch flu and don't get particularly ill and then pass it on, and they may be also contagious before they go off sick.
‘Of course, I am also concerned that they shouldn’t be out of work sick when they could have prevented it with a vaccine. I want them able to work and enjoy the Christmas period with their relatives. There are all sorts of reasons why it would be much better if GPs and all their workers were vaccinated.’
The CMO’s comments come on the heels of her renewed call for GPs to ensure that more toddlers, so-called ‘superspreaders’ of the disease, receive the vaccine following a slump in uptake.