National flu vaccine campaign to target health workers in England

GPs, nurses and other health workers will be encouraged to get vaccinated against seasonal flu in a campaign launched today - despite no national campaign for the public.

The National NHS Staff Seasonal Flu Vaccination Campaign aims to improve uptake after last year's figures showed just 34.7% of front-line workers had the vaccine.

In some trusts less than 10% of workers were vaccinated last winter.

Beginning this month, the campaign will spread the message about the importance of the flu jab. But it comes after the government recently ruled out a similar campaign for patients.

Over 600 deaths in the UK were directly caused by flu last winter, when the H1N1 swine flu strain circulated once again. Many more fatalities were linked to flu infection.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: 'We want to help NHS staff to fight the flu, to protect the services they provide, their families and their patients. Flu has a hugely negative impact on the NHS and is fatal in too many cases.

'By working together we can achieve enough vaccinations to dramatically reduce the current high risk of flu spreading within the NHS.'

He added: 'We want staff vaccinations to eventually become as commonplace in the NHS as washing your hands. In some health trusts over 90% of front-line staff are vaccinated, which is fantastic.'

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

NHS Employers will run the campaign on behalf of the Social Partnership Forum - a collaboration of NHS Employers, trade unions and the DoH.

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