Over half of frontline NHS staff in England have had flu vaccinations this winter, according to the flu fighter campaign, run annually by the NHS Employers organisation.
The Public Health England (PHE) figures show that 494,083 (53.1 per cent) had been vaccinated by 31 December 2013. This is 21 per cent higher than at the same time the previous year (44 per cent or 436,579 staff).
These vaccinations have made a significant contribution to this year's winter planning in the NHS as they help to keep the workforce healthy and protect vulnerable patients.
The figures show that the campaign is becoming more successful each year. Vaccinations have continued to take place into January, but this winter has already broken staff flu vaccination records. Before the flu fighter campaign was launched in 2010 the vaccination total was 34.7 per cent in 2010/2011.
Dean Royles, the chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said that social media has played a big role in publicising the flu fighter campaign.
‘There's a really strong message about the importance of social media and good engagement. They are the reasons why so many more staff are getting vaccinated now than three years ago when the flu fighter campaign began. We're seeing around 5,000 staff being vaccinated every day and every single one of those will help keep the NHS and its patients safe, especially in any event of a flu outbreak,' he said.
He added, ‘Our ambition has always been to make staff flu vaccinations the norm and there are exciting signs that this is happening. Wherever you go, you see staff arranging their jab because they've seen colleagues doing it, they know it helps protect patients, and they have good local arrangements. It's what we had hoped for - that the effort would gain a life of its own locally and begin to accelerate'.
GP surgeries, trusts and other organisations have received flu fighter's wide range of support materials and access to expert advice. Staff flu vaccinations are not mandatory so the programme is key to raising the awareness of the benefits of the vaccination.