At the time of writing this I am about to go for my flu jab. No GP appointment. No time off work for an appointment in the middle of the day. At lunchtime I will walk around the corner from the QNI office to a well-known chain of chemists that offers the immunisation for £10.
Last Christmas, I spent four days in bed and completely missed whole chunks of family events. I want to avoid a repeat of that. The chief nursing officer for England, Jane Cummings, and the director of nursing for Public Health England, Viv Bennett, are actively supporting the NHS in encouraging all frontline practitioners to be immunised against influenza this winter.
In homes and communities all around the UK community nurses are doing all we can to avoid the anticipated impact of winter. This includes ensuring vulnerable adults, children and all health practitioners who are physically able to have the immunisation are provided with the opportunity to do so.
This will avoid the unnecessary spread of infection and consequent suffering, especially in our frail older population. Last year, I spent much of the time I was ill worrying that I might have infected my elderly foster parents who are around 80 years of age, but thankfully they had both been immunised by their practice nurse and had remained in the best of health throughout the winter.
We know that our hospital-based colleagues are preparing for a really tough time this winter, with challenges to A&E waiting times and the hospital bed capacity. Meanwhile, as is so often the case, there has been little in the press covering all the fantastic work that community services are doing to prepare their communities for the winter period.
I know that community nurses on the frontline are doing all they can to ensure those who need the services most are cared for and hospital admissions are avoided.
Part of that will be ensuring that the nurses themselves keep well and do not pass on potential infections to their patients, families and carers. Now, off to the chemist!