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Record numbers of NHS frontline staff have had flu jab this winter

Almost 62% so far, with proportion expected to rise in January and February

Caroline White

Friday, 20 January 2017

Record numbers of NHS staff have had their flu jab this winter, official figures from Public Health England (PHE) show.

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.

So the rise in staff vaccinations is an important step towards keeping employees and patients safe. It has increased from 359,080 (34.7%) in the winter of 2010-11, just before the national flu fighter campaign was launched by NHS Employers.

This winter the campaign also ran its first #jabathon event (5-10 December 2016), which helped to sustain vaccination rates when they usually dip in December. In total, 61,311 (6.2%) of staff were vaccinated in December compared to 28,475 (3.5%) a year ago.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, commented: “Fortunately we haven’t seen a major outbreak of flu in years but it continues to be a real threat to staff, patients and even the sustainability of services during winter. Every one of these safe, effective vaccinations helps keep flu out of the NHS.”

He added: “Winter puts a lot of strain on the NHS and its hard-working staff. It’s inspiring that so many of them find time to get vaccinated, which is entirely voluntary, and help to make it accessible to colleagues.”

The NHS was on track to make frontline staff flu jabs “as universal as washing our hands,” he said.

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