Just over a third of Newham’s frontline healthcare workers vaccinated against flu

Just over a third of frontline healthcare workers in Newham have had the flu vaccine, according to a new survey.

Among workers who interact regularly with patients in the borough’s hospitals and clinics, including midwives, a total of 36.7 per cent have had the jab to stop the spread of influenza.

Sitting slightly higher than the London average of 36 per cent, employers strongly recommended that all health care workers and carers have the flu vaccine to protect themselves, their patients, and their families, and to encourage others to do the same.

The new statistics were presented in a Health Protection Agency (HPA) study on September 11 at the independent organisation’s annual conference at the University of Warwick.

Dr David Ishola, a consultant at the HPA and the lead author on the study, said: “Pregnant women are now routinely offered the seasonal flu vaccine in the UK and midwives are in an important position to advise and encourage them.

“With the general uptake of flu vaccine among healthcare workers needing further improvement, and a lack of information on the attitudes of midwives specifically, our survey aimed to uncover any barriers to midwives having the vaccine themselves and recommending it to the pregnant women they care for.”

NHS North East London and the City offers a free annual flu jab to people aged 65 and over, all pregnant women at any stage in their pregnancy, adults and children from the age of six months with long-term health conditions, carers of older or disabled people, those living in a residential or nursing home, and all frontline healthcare and social workers.

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Rachel Flowers, joint director of public health in Newham for NHS North East London and the City, said: “The 2012 flu vaccine is due to arrive in Newham towards the end of September. Don’t wait for an outbreak or to be invited for a jab.

“The best way to avoid flu is to make an appointment for a flu jab as soon as possible.

“You can do this with the nurse at your GP surgery or your GP. If you are a mum-to-be you can also get your jab from an antenatal clinic.”