Oct 17

Looking after yourself and those you care for this flu season

Posted on Monday 2nd October 2017

flu news item imageFlu can be a serious illness, particularly for the elderly or those with other health conditions. Care workers are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, so it’s important that they help protect themselves and those receiving care and support against flu.

We’re urging the social care workforce to roll up their sleeves and get their flu jabs this season! You can find full details from the briefing here.

All social care providers should offer vaccination to all staff directly involved in delivering care. By getting vaccinated, staff protect the people they care for, themselves and their own families and communities.

Flu viruses can change over time, so the vaccines are made in advance of the flu season to protect against the strains of the virus that are most likely to circulate that year.

As well as the health impact on cared-after people, flu related sickness absence puts additional strain and cost on social care providers.

Benefits of the flu immunisation

Immunisation of care workers has been shown to protect them, provide indirect protection to those receiving care and is cost-effective. Benefits include a reduction in:

  • disease spread and patient mortality in long term elderly patients
  • staff absenteeism (ensuring business continuity)
  • the costs of providing cover for absent staff
  • the healthcare costs of managing a flu outbreak.

Options for providing the vaccination to staff

Organising the immunisation of staff can be a challenge, due to the nature of shift working and the likely high proportion of part-time workers. Some staff may be eligible for free vaccination via their general practice

There are a number of options available to social care providers.

  • Occupation health – larger providers may have access to services, with trained and experienced immunisers.
  • Local contracts with healthcare providers – immunisation is provided in the workplace, and in care homes residents and staff vaccines could be given at the same time.
  • Staff flu vouchers – provides more flexibility for shift workers.
  • Staff reimbursement – staff can get the vaccine from any pharmacist.
  • Peer vaccinations – employer purchases the vaccine and staff vaccinate each other, enabling shift workers to easily obtain the vaccine. 

A concern for some is the myth around developing flu from the vaccine, however, it has a good safety profile and the injectable vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses so cannot cause flu. Immunisation is the single best way of protecting people from flu and preventing its spread, so be a flu fighter and ensure your staff are vaccinated this season!

Spread the word of not spreading the flu! Follow us on social media @skillsforcare #flu #flufighter

For more information visit the NHS flu fighter website.