Health, Social and Hospice Care Workers: What the Flu Vaccination means for their employers – and their patients
Frontline workers in health know they’re prone to catching viruses – and passing them on.
Although there’s been some trepidation about the vaccination’s effectiveness (depending on active strains during a season), the NHS and WHO report it’s still the most effective method to avoid catching influenza.
This is why the NHS recommends jabs for frontline health and social care workers as part of an employer’s policy to prevent the transmission of flu, which helps protect both healthcare workers and those they care for.
The NHS is making jabs available specifically for their frontline healthcare workers, but they’ve made clear that this is intended to complement – not replace – an established occupational health lead vaccination programme. Many employers see improving the rate of uptake as vital to public health, not only to their bottom line.
We all play an important role in improving the health of ourselves and those around us. Employers and staff don’t want to have to worry about their cherished family members in care facilities. That’s why it may concern you that, across the board, uptake isn’t as high as it could be.
“Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan in September  had told Harris that he was concerned about “the poor uptake of the vaccine in patient facing staff roles”.
He warned that staff who are not vaccinated represent a risk to patients as they can spread flu and when they become ill they will be absent from the workforce, often at a time when they are most needed.”Journal
Vaccinations protect the patient as well as the healthcare worker; it makes sense why the NHS offers staff vaccinations but, with lower absences associated with receiving a jab, why aren’t more private healthcare employers providing this service?
The care home industry has a vaccination uptake of only 25 percent for care staff.homecare.co.uk
That’s a frightening difference from the 2018 uptake for frontline NHS staff, who had an uptake of 68.7 percent.
Those in care homes are among society’s most vulnerable. With the flu being highly contagious, it just doesn’t make sense why most care home workers are missing the jab, especially with the numerous occupational health providers of vaccination programmes in the UK.
Occupational health providers are key partners in delivering the flu clinics that private employers need. With all the data showing the flu vaccination saves lives, money and improves public health, we need to encourage employers to provide a flu vaccination clinic or purchase national vouchers.
Why is the uptake for care home workers so low? Are costs to employers that prohibitive?
A vaccination clinic for an employer can cost as low as £350, whereas a week of lost productivity from an employee home with the flu can cost £450 or more. Aside from that, an employee with the flu increases the risk of serious illness and threat to life for those most vulnerable.
A study, Influenza vaccination in healthcare workers: A comprehensive critical appraisal of the literature, found that vaccination is effective in protecting healthcare workers, reducing infections, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. The study also found the vaccine contributed to decreased cumulative days of febrile respiratory illness and days of absence among vaccinated healthcare workers.
As shown above, costs are minimal. Once employers realise onsite clinics are affordable, the uptake will most likely increase. By spending a little on a flu vaccination clinic or national vouchers now, employers can avoid a higher cost of absence, as well as contribute positively to society.
Whether a vaccination is covered by the NHS or an employer provides it to staff, vaccination is the best way to reduce the long-term burden on the NHS, lower the cost of business, increase the health of the public, and protect individuals and families.
To discuss how Collingwood Health can assist in providing a vaccination clinic, or to get a jab at one of our clinics, please contact our Medical Centre on 01753781600.
*Nichole Humphrey is the Sales Manager at Collingwood Health. With over 25 years of experience in Canada and the United Kingdom, she is committed to providing the best health and wellbeing solutions for employers and their staff.