Social care: guidance for workforce flu vaccination

Social care providers should offer vaccination to all staff directly involved in delivering care. The low cost of vaccination compared with the impact it can have on the service should be an important consideration for employers. As an employer of health or social care staff, it is your responsibility to ensure your staff have the flu vaccination.

Flu is a serious illness in vulnerable people, potentially causing deaths and complications such as pneumonia. Social care employers are asked to encourage their staff to take up the offer of vaccination in the coming flu season to protect themselves, their families and the vulnerable people they care for. Flu outbreaks can cause severe disruption to health and social care services in the winter months.

You should ensure your staff are vaccinated against flu if they are health or social care workers directly involved in patient care.

Vaccination prevents health and social care workers passing flu on to, or getting flu from, their patients or clients. It also helps the NHS and social care services to keep running effectively during a flu outbreak, when GPs and hospital services are particularly busy.

Your flu vaccination programme

All organisations are different and will need to find a vaccination model that suits them. Vaccinations can be conducted on site, offsite or a combination of both. On site vaccinations can be undertaken by third party providers or if the skills are available by suitably qualified staff. Off site vaccinations can be carried out at local community pharmacies or GP surgeries.

See the Public Health England publication Flu Immunisation for Social Care Staff for more information on vaccination models.

Public Health England has produced Flu and flu vaccination 2018/19: A toolkit for care homes designed to help care home owners and managers – and partnership organisations who work alongside care homes and in residential settings – in meeting their duty of care by ensuring their staff are able to access the flu vaccine.

Funding your staff flu vaccination programme

As with NHS healthcare workers social care staff vaccination should be funded by employers at local level as part of their occupational health responsibilities. There is no central provision of vaccine for NHS or social care services. With many local national pharmacies and supermarkets offering flu vaccinations, the service can be set up easily and delivered at a relatively low cost.

In 2019/20 NHS England and NHS Improvement are continuing to support vaccination of social care and hospice workers. This scheme is intended to complement, not replace, any established occupational health schemes that employers have in place to offer flu vaccination to their workforce.  It will be available to:

  • Health and social care staff, employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza. Vulnerable means those patients/clients in a clinical risk group for flu or who are aged 65 years and over.
  • Health and care staff, employed by a voluntary managed hospice provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza. Vulnerable means those patients/clients in a clinical risk group for flu or who are aged 65 years and over.