Department of Health (UK) Admonish Flu Vaccination to Nurses

A recent press release by the Department of Health indicated that nurses and midwives working in hospitals belong to the number of health workers with smallest possibility of getting the seasonal flu vaccination. Based on the most recent seasonal flu vaccine uptake summary, the figure of the healthcare workers, which is categorized according to occupation, who chose to have the seasonal flu vaccination from the previous winter is now available for the very first time.

Among the participants were 30% nurses, which include hospital nurses as well as midwives, 42.5% of GP practice nurses, 38.2% of GPs, and 37% of doctors not including GPs.

The report revealed that even with the rising population of healthcare workers who are choosing to have the flu vaccination, 26.4% for the winter of 2009 as opposed to 34.7% for the winter of 2010, more of the nurses who work with the most seriously sick for the winter months as well as midwives who work with pregnant women did not get the flu vaccination. The flu holds potential fatal complications and without vaccination against it, the virus could be passed onto patients and their family.

The report further revealed data with regards to the details of the seasonal flu vaccine uptake for those patients who are at high risk, such as present condition and age, showing that 25.2% of 6 months old to 2 years old were vaccinated the previous winter, a low figure compared to 51.7% of 16 to 65 year olds who are at risk.

For the previous winter, persons at risk had 11 times more probability to die from seasonal flu as opposed to those who do not have any underlying health troubles. This risk went up for a number of certain health conditions, especially for those with chronic liver disease, a very high risk. Individuals who suffered from this condition had 48 times more probability of dying if they got the flu as opposed to those who do not have any health conditions. 41.8% of those with liver disease patients were injected with the vaccine, a not so huge figure in comparison with 68.4% of those with diabetes.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies greatly recommended that NHS personnel should get themselves protected since they will be highly exposed to the grave flu effects over winter. This will also serve to protect their patients and families as well. Anne Milton, Public Health Minister, backs up Dame Davies recommendation, stating that nurses, particularly those who interact with patients who have severe health problems and midwives who work with pregnant women, ought to get themselves the vaccination in order to protect not only themselves but their patients as well.

On the same note, Louise Silverton, RCM Deputy General Secretary, emphasized that midwives should really promote the flu vaccination to pregnant women. Additionally, midwives themselves should also greatly think about getting the vaccination themselves so as to protect themselves, their families, and their pregnant patients alike.

Another officer, Dr. Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing also suggested that nurses ought to play their part by taking care of their health since both the healthcare staff and patients alike suffer when it is the nurses who get sick and are kept from going to work. Employers, however, should not force staff to get the vaccination but they should work alongside vaccination services to make certain that the entire procedure will not be complicated and will be as efficient as possible.

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Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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