A scheme to recognise care sector organisations that encourage their staff to get the flu jab is to run again this year.
NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England launched the awards scheme last year to recognise efforts made by care homes, hospices and domiciliary care providers to achieve a high level of flu vaccine uptake by their staff.
Organisations will receive a bronze award if 50% to 59% of staff are vaccinated, silver for 60% to 69%% and gold if 70% or more of their staff have the flu jab.
Staff who work in care sector organisations have a personal responsibility to ensure they protect themselves and those they care for from the flu.
Public Health England estimates that an average of 8,000 people die from flu related complications in England each year.
Chief nurse for North East and Yorkshire, Margaret Kitching, said: “Getting the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself against flu and to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
“Staff working in the care sector are more likely to come into contact with people who have the flu virus so have the responsibility to protect themselves and those they care for. Older people and those with existing health conditions can become seriously ill if they get flu. It is also possible to carry the virus without showing symptoms.
“I am making a plea for all care sector staff to get the flu jab and also to organisations to encourage their staff to get the vaccination.
“We were very pleased with the response to this awards scheme last year and more importantly we potentially prevented significant numbers of people from getting the flu. Let’s work together to improve the flu vaccine uptake in the care sector and increase the gold awards we give out!”
Professor Paul Johnstone, regional director for Public Health England in the North East and Yorkshire, said: “Flu is a potentially fatal illness and one that can spread quickly. I urge all health and social care workers to take up the flu vaccine – having the vaccine is the single best way to protect against flu and will be an important step in preventing not only you, but your family, friends and people you care for from this debilitating illness.”
Care sector organisations will receive information about how to take part in the flu vaccine awards scheme.
Care sector staff can get a free flu jab at their local GP or participating pharmacy. They should take their ID badge, letter from employer or payslip.
Staff in care sector organisations can find out more about getting the vaccine at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine
Members of the public can find out more about getting vaccinated by speaking to their GP or local pharmacist, or visiting nhs.uk/fluvaccine