Concern over the uptake of flu vaccine among healthcare workers and eligible groups in England has been raised in a new report from the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology.
The Committee published its report on the flu vaccination programme in England last week. It follows an inquiry as a result of the high disease burden of influenza infection in the 2017/18 season and substantial variations in vaccine uptake.
The report raises particular concern about low vaccine uptake among social care workers, pointing to a Public Health England (PHE) survey of care homes which revealed “huge variability, with the best [uptake] at 25 per cent”.
The report also notes that while vaccination uptake among healthcare workers has increased in recent years, there is still huge variation in the level of uptake among front-line staff. In 2017/18, the lowest level of vaccination at trust level was 38.9 per cent and the highest level was 92.3 per cent.
The Committee welcomed recent steps by the NHS to increase uptake rates among front-line hospital staff, but called on the Government undertake and conclude a review by the end of February 2019 to establish whether flu vaccination should be mandatory for certain categories of healthcare workers.
“The huge variation in uptake rates of the flu vaccination among healthcare workers is unacceptable. The fact that some trusts manage to get such high uptake rates demonstrates that what is being asked is not unachievable. It is time for many trusts to up their game and encourage their staff to get vaccinated,” Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said.