Senior clinicians and leaders from the health and social care service have urged front-line staff to get their annual flu vaccine at the earliest.
This is in line with the expanded flu vaccination programme for the public and front-line health and social care workers this year, with 30 million people eligible for free vaccination.
The first batches of this year’s vaccines have started to reach local employers this week. Hospitals and local NHS organisations across England will be starting drop-in clinics and promotions to ensure that every eligible member of staff is vaccinated.
This year, eligible front-line social care workers will also be able to get their free flu jab from a GP or pharmacy. Additionally, pharmacists can deliver the vaccination to residential care staff at their place of work.
Front-line staff who catch the flu often need to take time off from work, thereby increasing the pressure on services during one of the busiest times of the year. Evidence indicates that a 10 per cent improvement in NHS staff vaccination can cut sickness absence by about 10 per cent.
In an open letter to the front-line NHS staff, Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, emphasises that flu vaccination is the best way to protect themselves and the vulnerable patients they care for, the circumstances this winter being exceptional with COVID-19 still in circulation.
Ruth May said: "Every year we urge our colleagues to protect themselves, their families and their patients by taking up the free flu jab, and every year more and more do – but this year’s call is the most vital we have ever made."