Nurses and midwives, as well as other patient-facing healthcare professionals, should ensure they are vaccinated against flu, Public Health England (PHE) has said, after figures showed a fall in coverage.
Some 50.6% were immunised for influenza last year, compared with 54.9% in the winter of 2014/15. Viv Bennett, the chief nurse at PHE, has written to healthcare organisations to advise them to make sure staff are properly vaccinated.
‘For this coming winter it is important that we reverse this decline, and aim for a much higher uptake both to protect our families and communities, but also reduce the impact of the virus on our health services at a time of year we need them the most, said Ms Bennett.
She also stated that healthcare professionals have ‘a responsibility to do everything possible to protect patients against infection.’
PHE published a factsheet to accompany the letter, advising staff on the importance of vaccinations, as flu can cause severe illness in patients from at risk groups such as pregnant women and the elderly.
The factsheet states that ‘vaccination is the best protection we have against the unpredictable influenza virus. It is crucial that if you are eligible, you get vaccinated early before people start getting flu.’
While the influenza virus is susceptible to mutation which can decrease the efficacy of vaccination, PHE have said that the vaccine used in the 2015/16 season ‘was well matched to the circulating strains of flu and provided a good level of protection’.