Record numbers of people in England will be offered a flu vaccine this winter. For the first time, all primary school children will be offered the nasal spray | via Public Health England
The health service in England has prepared for its largest ever flu protection drive to help keep people well and ease pressure on urgent care services over the colder months.
The number of people eligible has topped 25 million this year as the offer of the vaccine is now extended to all primary school aged children – an extra 600,000 children. NHS commissioned school vaccination teams, maternity services, general practices and local pharmacies are all now preparing to provide vaccines to primary school aged children, 2 and 3 year olds, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and older adults (aged 65 years and over).
Employers of frontline health and social care workers also have a responsibility to ensure their staff can get the free vaccine. A record number of NHS staff – almost 3 quarters of a million, or 70.3% of frontline workers – took up their workplace jab last year.
A more effective flu vaccine is available this winter for those aged 65 and over, which could prevent deaths and reduce the burden on the NHS | Public Health England
Public Health England (PHE) has announced that a more effective flu vaccine will be available this winter for those aged 65 and over. The broader flu vaccination, for eligible adults under 65, will also be improved and the nasal spray vaccine to primary school children will be extended to those in year 5.
PHE’s annual flu marketing campaign will launch on 8 October. NHS England has also announced the extension of NHS seasonal influenza vaccination to social care workers and staff in the voluntary managed hospice sector.
People who are eligible for the flu vaccine this year include:
adults aged 65 and over
adults aged 18 to 64 with a long term health condition
children aged 2 to 3 at their GP practice
school children in years reception, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
NHS staff who refuse to have the flu vaccine this winter will have to give reasons to their employer, as leaders make efforts to improve take-up rates| BMJ2017; 359
NHS leaders are to write to all NHS staff urging them to be vaccinated against flu as soon as possible. The letter will make it clear that staff who refuse the vaccine will have to give reasons to their employing NHS trust, which will then be recorded.
The heads of NHS England, Public Health England, the Department of Health for England, and NHS Improvement said that they were writing to remind staff of their “professional duty to protect their patients.” Trusts are also being urged to make the flu vaccine “readily available” to staff.
Although last year saw record take-up of the vaccine among staff, more than a third of NHS staff members did not take up the offer, with just a fifth being vaccinated in some trusts.
Hospitals and GP surgeries are being warned by NHS England to be prepared for a big increase in cases of flu this winter after a heavy season in the southern hemisphere.
Guidance for early years childcare settings on the nasal spray flu vaccination for preschool children. | Public Health England
This guidance has been produced for the early years sector to assist staff and childminders and answers the most frequently asked questions regarding the nasal spray flu vaccination being offered to children in this age group.
It is not intended for parents and children as they have their own dedicated leaflet.
Coverage of annual influenza vaccination of healthcare workers (HCWs) varies and remains at a sub-optimal level in many countries | Journal of Hospital Infection
As HCWs are often exposed to a variety of information on vaccination, their pattern of exposure may impact their decision, which deserves further investigation.
Practising nurses in Hong Kong were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey in February 2015, after the winter seasonal peak. The questionnaire covered demographics, work nature and experiences, vaccination uptake history and reasons for vaccination decisions. Two categories of behaviors with regards to information access were defined – (A) passive exposure to information, and (B) active information-seeking, as differentiated by the source, type and nature of information accessed. Chi-square test, Mann-Whitney U test, logistic regression were performed to compare between vaccinated and unvaccinated nurses.
A total of 1177 valid returns were received from nurses who had a median age of 32, of whom 86% were female. The overall vaccination rate was 33%. Passive exposure to information from workplace, professional body and social network did not predict vaccination decision, while mass media did (OR:1.78). Active information-seeking involving consulting seniors (OR:2.46), having organized promotion activities (OR:2.85) and performing information search (OR:2.43) were significantly associated with increased vaccination uptake. Cumulative effect could be demonstrated for active information seeking (OR:1.86) but not passive exposure to information.
Current strategy of promotions and campaigns for seasonal influenza vaccination in HCWs may not be effective in increasing vaccination coverage. Measures targeting information-seeking behaviors may serve as an alternative approach.
Flu complications are a leading cause of hospitalization and death worldwide. At risk for serious complications are individuals who are extremely young or old, obese, chronically ill or who have compromised immune systems.
Research published in the journal Cell Reports writes of a promising new approach that uses an investigational cancer drug to dial down viral production and dramatically increase survival of flu-infected mice.
Record numbers of NHS staff have had their flu jab this winter, official figures from Public Health England (PHE) show | OnMedica
Some 594,700 (61.8%) frontline NHS staff across England were vaccinated against flu between 1 September and 31 December last year. That figure is expected to increase in January and February.
The highest level achieved by the end of February in previous winters was 541,757 (just under 55%) in 2014-15.
PHE does not have recorded numbers of deaths from flu. But it is estimated that, in 2015-16, there were about 2,300 excess deaths over the winter linked to the time of year. Flu and extreme cold weather are the two most likely causes.