Frontline staff missing out on vital flu jabs

Flu vaccination
Flu vaccination

Outbreaks of flu at borough health and care sites may have been caused by staff not being vaccinated, a town hall report has suggested.

Service bosses have targeted getting more staff to have their flu jab this year as a result.

The details have been revealed as part of an immunisation and screening report set to be discussed by the council’s health and wellbeing board later this month.

It states although vaccine uptake is at satisfactory levels among residents, it is “patchy” among staff and this “has been a factor in recent flu outbreaks”.

Specific details of these outbreaks has not been released but is set to be part of a report due before the health committee later this year.

Prof Kate Ardern, director of Public Health for Wigan borough, said: “It is so important that all people in the borough who are vulnerable to the effects of flu take up the vaccine over winter.

“Flu can be a very unpleasant illness and for vulnerable people it can be dangerous. The vaccine reduces the chance of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk.

“Older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with a chronic health condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, are at a particular risk.

“The work with care homes and other care providers is an extension of the work we do with our own staff through The Deal for Health and Wellbeing, to not only protect them and help to reduce sickness absence but to provide additional protection to our residents.”

The report reveals Wigan’s uptake for the flu vaccine across a majority of age ranges compares favourably with rates across Greater Manchester.

Specifying several objectives for the coming year, the report reads: “Extend current staff flu vaccination programme to cover nursing and residential home staff as vaccine uptake is good amongst residents but remains patchy amongst staff which has been a factor in recent flu outbreaks.”

The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing complications.

You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:

Are 65 years of age or over

Are pregnant

Have certain conditions

Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility

Receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.

Front-line health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine.