Tuesday 19 September 2017

Only a fraction of healthcare workers vaccinated against flu virus

Vaccination is running at low levels among medical staff. Stock Image
Vaccination is running at low levels among medical staff. Stock Image
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Fewer than one in six health workers in some of the country's leading hospitals have been vaccinated against the flu virus, according to the latest figures from the HSE.

One of the worst offenders was Mayo General Hospital in Taoiseach Enda Kenny's home town of Castlebar, where just 13.9pc of staff had taken the vaccine.

The worrying statistics came as Health Minister Simon Harris urged hospital workers to get the flu jab as the trolley crisis escalated.

A key recommendation from a HSE emergency team tasked with tackling the overcrowding problem was for hospital staff to be given the vaccine.

Meanwhile, a leading HSE doctor said that healthcare staff who had not been vaccinated could have "very big consequences" for the country's struggling health system.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, a consultant in public health, stressed the importance of staff getting the vaccine when he spoke at a briefing on influenza.

Dr Kevin Kelleher is a senior consultant with the HSE. Photo: Tom Burke
Dr Kevin Kelleher is a senior consultant with the HSE. Photo: Tom Burke

"We also have to make sure the staff are vaccinated too. If the staff aren't vaccinated then there can be big consequences in terms of flu outbreaks," he said.

"We know every year that we get between 40 and 80 outbreaks of flu in healthcare institutions, predominately long-care facilities for the elderly."

Poor

However, data compiled by the HSE on December 19 showed extremely poor uptake of the flu jab among staff.

In University Maternity Hospital Limerick, a mere 14pc of staff had been vaccinated. In Dublin's Mater Hospital, just 17pc of staff had received the flu jab.

The report found that across 45 hospitals, under a third of staff had been vaccinated.

Staff most likely to be vaccinated were categorised as 'medical and dental' staff, with just under half of these reporting vaccination.

Temple Street Children's Hospital had the most vaccinated staff, with 873 staff members getting the jab.

The hospital was the only one where at least half the staff had been given the vaccine.

Only three people working in Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital in Kilkenny were vaccinated out of a staff of 86 people, making it the worst-rated hospital in the entire country.

Irish Independent

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