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75% target for NHS staff to get flu jab next winter

NHS wants to beat 63% record set last year

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England have set a target to have a minimum 75% of NHS staff vaccinated against flu next winter.

In the newly published joint National flu immunisation programme 2017/18 letter sent out today, the target has been set to improve on the record 63% of staff immunised during last year’s 2016-17 winter season.

Last month, Public Health England reported that a total of 600,698 frontline healthcare workers had been vaccinated for the flu virus so far in the winter.

The results, measured from 1 September 2016 until 31 January 2017, accounted for 63% of eligible healthcare workers in England and was the highest figure yet both in percentage and total numbers vaccinated, surpassing the 2014-15 end of season figures when a total 541,090 frontline (54.9%) staff got vaccinated.

The new letter says: “Frontline health and social care workers should be provided with flu vaccination by their employer. This should form part of the organisations’ policy for the prevention of transmission of infection (flu) to help protect patients, residents, and service users as well as staff and their families. This includes staff in all NHS trusts, general practices, care homes, and domiciliary care.”

Last year, NHS England published a two-year Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) Guidance covering 2017-18 and 2018-19, which includes an indicator to improve the uptake of flu vaccinations for frontline healthcare staff within providers.

The joint letter says that in recognition of the fact that for some trusts, this could mean a significant amount of work, the CQUIN indictor for the first year is for providers to achieve an uptake of flu vaccinations by frontline healthcare staff of 70%, rising to 75% in the second year.

In next winter’s campaign, the usual patient groups will be targeted for flu vaccination, including all children aged two to eight (but not nine years or older) on 31 August

2017, all primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas, those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups, pregnant women, those aged 65 years and over, those in long-stay residential care homes, and carers.

Changes to the programme for next winter include:

  • vaccinating people who are morbidly obese (BMI of 40 and above) will attract a payment under the directed enhanced services in 2017-18
  • children aged 4-5 years will now be offered flu vaccination in reception class, rather than through general practice so no payment will be made under the DES if they are vaccinated in general practice (unless the child is in an at-risk group)
  • children aged 8-9 years (school year 4) will, as part of the phased roll-out of the children’s programme, will be offered the vaccination.

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