Exclusive: Two thirds of GPs vaccinated against flu in 2015, poll suggests

Almost two thirds of GPs have been vaccinated against flu this year, a GPonline survey reveals.

The findings suggest that uptake among GPs remains significantly higher than among other doctors and among the highest for any group of healthcare workers. Official data show just over half of all doctors were vaccinated last year.

Senior NHS doctors have urged GPs to set an example to patients by ensuring they are vaccinated. In an interview with GPonline last year, CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies warned that unvaccinated GPs could pose a ‘significant’ risk to patients.

Some experts argue that unvaccinated GPs pose a risk during home visits to elderly or multimorbid patients, where flu transmission could be fatal.

There have been calls too for greater pressures to be put on GPs to be vaccinated. In November of this year, ESCMID (the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease) asked EU health services to produce flu vaccination uptake rankings for hospital staff, and some have argued for this to be extended to GP surgeries.

GP flu jab uptake

GPs are divided over the benefits of vaccination. Hertfordshire GP Dr Wendy Sainsburysaid setting a good example to staff was a key argument for vaccination. 'Staff may have fears about the flu jab and if they see the doctors having it that fear might be overcome,' she argued.

But BMA prescribing subcommittee chairman Dr Andrew Green said: 'Health professionals are entitled, like everyone else, to make personal decisions about their own healthcare. Those decisions should not be based on any expectation of being exposed to praise or shame.'

One survey respondent backed Dr Green's view, arguing that 'it is my human right to decline this'. Other respondents questioned the evidence behind claims that vaccinating GPs would protect patients.

But one GP said: 'I will have it, just as I had one last year, I will always take the flu jab to set the example for the rest of my staff and my practice. There are still too many health workers not keen on the flu jab becuase they feel it will make them unwell.'

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