More than half of healthcare professionals asked believe that patients do not take up the flu vaccine because they are concerned it could have flu-like side-effects, according to a survey by Ipsos MORI.
Fifty-three per cent of UK healthcare professionals, including practice nurses, thought this was the main reason at-risk patients, including over 65s, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems don't have vaccinations. It ranked in the top five reasons given by 94 per cent of the respondents.
The next biggest concern was that patients who have not previously had flu may not consider themselves at risk. Eighty-six per cent of respondents placed this in their top five reasons for not taking up the vaccination.
Practice nurse Louise Brady, from Cheshire, said: 'As healthcare professionals it is important we provide clarity in our communications with patients. We need to simplify the language used to explain how vaccination works, and how this can support individuals, families and populations. We need to be strong advocates for public health, and have conversations around health education.
'We can highlight the difference between the 'common cold' and the flu virus. Hopefully, this will help mitigate and alleviate worries and fears patients may have.'
The online survey was carried out across seven countries: the UK, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. Of the UK respondents, 100 were practice nurses and 100 were GPs.