NHS Tayside’s flu vaccination programme saw a record number of Tayside staff being immunised in 2018/19 to protect themselves and their patients from flu.
NHS Tayside saw its staff vaccination uptake more than double from 18% in 2016/17 to 37% the following year. In 2018/19, uptake again increased to more than 54%, the highest level ever recorded in Tayside and rising above the national average for the first time.
Consultant in Public Health Medicine Dr Daniel Chandler, who leads on the flu vaccination programme in Tayside, explained, “A raft of initiatives have been introduced over the last couple of years to boost our uptake of staff flu vaccines.
“We substantially increased the availability and promotion of opportunities for our staff and volunteers to get vaccinated at drop-in clinics in hospitals and community sites and at mobile sessions in frontline areas, as well as training a significant number of our staff to be peer immunisers and vaccinate their colleagues on the wards. NHS staff can also attend participating community pharmacies across Tayside to get their free flu jab.
“Healthcare workers have a higher risk of flu compared to the general public, with up to one in four likely to become infected during a mild flu season, and more than two thirds of people with flu may not have any symptoms but could still pass it on to others.
“This is why it is so important for us to vaccinate as many members of staff as possible. We need to protect staff, patients and service users, especially those most at risk of serious complications, by reducing the spread of the virus in our hospitals and communities.
“We know that education and awareness is important in order to address concerns and perceptions that some people may have around the flu vaccine. This is something that we will build on further as we move into the 2019/20 vaccination programme but we are very pleased to see so many of our staff now viewing the flu jab as an important and necessary part of their job as healthcare workers.”
Interim Chair Lorna Birse-Stewart, said, “I would like to commend the whole team involved in the staff flu vaccination programme last year as the increase in the number of staff getting vaccinated was very impressive.
“I would encourage all of our staff to take up the offer of vaccination this year to protect themselves and our patients.”
This year’s flu vaccination programme is due to start at the beginning of October with all NHS Tayside staff and volunteers, as well as children under 12, pregnant women, adults over 65 and people with health conditions, offered the vaccine free of charge. Those eligible will receive more information over the next few weeks about when and where they can get the flu vaccine this year.