Health

Friday 1 August 2014

Fear for patients over health workers' low flu jab take-up

Low rates of immunisation among staff is jeopardising the health of patients
Low rates of immunisation among staff is jeopardising the health of patients

PATIENTS and elderly residents are being put at risk of flu because of low numbers of staff in HSE-run hospitals and nursing homes who are getting the winter flu jab.

Figures for last winter show that the take-up was just 17.4pc among hospital staff.

And it was lower still at 15pc in nursing homes where elderly residents are particularly vulnerable.

However, annual seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended to all healthcare workers to prevent illness among these workers and reduce absenteeism.

Most importantly, it is designed to protect their patients against influenza and the associated complications, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC). The watchdog is currently warning of an upsurge in cases of flu this month, with five confirmed deaths so far this winter.

Beaumont, the country's second largest hospital, introduced visiting restrictions at the weekend as it faced a flu outbreak.

The report said vaccination uptake among health workers for the 2012-2013 season was inadequate and needed to be improved.

A number of outbreaks among healthcare facilities have been reported in recent years, all of which have been characterised by low uptake among health workers in these units.

The National Immunisation Office provides the vaccine to all hospitals and long-term care facilities for staff vaccination.

Irish Independent

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