Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions, which operates around 80 care homes across the UK, is pleading with health and social care staff not to miss having the annual flu vaccine this year to protect the sector at an increasingly difficult time.
Uptake from health and social care staff has historically been at only 25% or less but Tony Stein believes everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, residents, and colleagues.
Reasons given for not having a flu jab include:
- It will give me the flu – an untrue myth
- Flu isn’t serious anyway it’s just a bad cold – untrue – between September 2019 and February 2020, almost 8,000 people died from flu in England alone. In 2017 and 2018, more than 22,000 people died from the virus
- The flu vaccination gives you bad side effects – untrue – risk of a serious side effect from having the flu vaccine is one in a million.
- I am frightened of needles
Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, recently wrote an open letter, also signed by the NHS’s most senior clinicians, to more than a million frontline NHS staff imploring them to help protect themselves and the vulnerable patients they might come into contact with from flu, highlighting the exceptional challenges faced this winter with COVID-19 still prevalent.
Frontline health and social care workers are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine.
Tony Stein said: “Outbreaks of flu can occur in the best run health and social care settings, and because flu is so contagious, staff, patients and residents are all at risk of infection and it can be very serious, or fatal, for older people and those with underlying health conditions particularly.
“There is enough for us all to deal with in the care home sector without staff being off sick and residents becoming ill.
“While the reporting of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in care homes has been hyperbolic to say the least, it is fair to say that the sector has been badly hit and the very last thing we need is a flu epidemic on top of COVID-19.
“The frustration is that there is a vaccine for flu to mitigate these fears. I will be first in line for my jab and will be strongly encouraging all my employees to be responsible and get vaccinated.
“My simple message – get a flu vaccination – it takes no time at all, doesn’t hurt and all the myths surrounding it are untrue!”