The flu…

News and Comment from Roy Lilley.

I was curious.  This year there is an unprecedented push to get staff flu-jabbed.

Bunting, flags, posters… the SoMe repertoire… pictures of jabbed-up bosses and smiling colleagues.

This year, the groups entitled to a free jab have been widened.  Why?  

The fear-of-god has been put into the system by the Australian experience; 160,000 cases of flu, in a population of 25m.  Many died from the complications.

A rough extrapolation… might mean 500,000 case of the flu, here?  If that happens the nation’s biggest workforce, the NHS, could be threadbare. 

Last year PHE’s Flu-Fighter numbers looked like this:

… a record number of frontline healthcare workers… had… the flu jab… 63.2%… much better than the 50.6% the previous year.

I am not, for one moment, belittling the effort… but 63% of staff?  What happened to the other four in ten.

This chimed with me.  In my travels, I’ve met a number of NHS-ers with the most bizarre reasons for declining vaccination.

Curious, I ran a quick Twitter-Survey.  Now, before the nobbies at Flip-flop-Sorry and all the other pollsters, statisticians and psephologist write to me and say it is a small self selecting group and useless… I know.

It is what it is.  Here are the astonishing results.

Nearly a quarter say ‘it doesn’t work’.  Really?  These are healthcare professionals!  What do they know that the rest of us don’t.  Has the DH spent millions on something that doesn’t work?  

It does work, not 100% but it works, reduces risk and might stop you having a stroke!

One in five claim a medical exemption.  Do we really have one in five of the workforce with allergies, can’t eat eggs or have Guillain-Barré syndrome?  

NHS Choices tell us:

People who have egg allergy may be at increased risk of reaction to the injectable flu vaccine… some flu jabs are made using eggs.  However, flu jabs that are egg-free are available. 

… you can ask for a special jab.

Twenty percent say the flu vaccination gives them the flu... just remember, these are health professionals…

Back to Choices:

The flu jab cannot cause flu because there are no active viruses in the vaccine.  If you have what you think is flu after vaccination, it may be that you have caught a virus that isn’t really flu, or you may have caught flu before your flu vaccination had taken effect.

Well over a third claimed a free flu-jab ‘encroaches on their personal rights’.  I’m temped to argue, sneezing the flu over work colleagues, patients, residents and carers impinges on their human rights… 

Cabin crew must have polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, meningitis, yellow fever, hepatitis A and hepatitis C, jabs or they don’t fly.

That’s the nub of the argument.  Some vaccinations can be part of the NHS contract of employment.  What are the arguments for making a flu-jab part of the contract of employment, for all NHS staff?

Pretty overwhelming?  Hepatitis for some, flu-jab for all.  Why not?

First, there is the duty of care that employers have for their staff.  It is highly likely NHS staff will come into contact with a higher incidence of flu infection than most.  The employer has a duty to protect them.

Second, we have a duty of care to ensure that our staff do not infect vulnerable patients…

Other reasons emerged; ‘I don’t have time’.  Then make time. Get one from the pharmacy on the way home.  ‘The ‘jab-clinic’ isn’t open at times convenient to me’.  

Note to the Jab-clinic; form a ‘Jab-Squad’, pack your stuff, go and find busy people.

This year we have enough trouble without heading back to 2009 territory.

No one is too junior to have a jab, no one too smart, no one too clever, too senior, too remote, too difficult, too back-office.  Only a tiny handful have a real reason not to have a flu-jab.

Don’t make excuses, take responsibility.  Making excuses becomes a bad habit.  What else are you making excuses about?  People who make excuses are seldom good for making anything else. 

This winter a lot of taxpayer’s money, a lot of colleague’s time and effort is being put into trying to keep you well.  Help them to help you.  Please.

We need you fighting-fit, not fighting the flu.  


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