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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Less than a third of hospital staff have been vaccinated against the flu

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Laura Larkin and Ian Begley

A leading HSE doctor has said that health-care staff who have not been vaccinated can have "very big consequences" for the struggling health system but new figures show that less than a third of hospital staff have been vaccinated.

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

"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.

"We know every year that we get between 40 – 80 outbreaks of flu in health care institutions, predominately long care facilities for the elderly," he said.

However provisional data from the HSE shows that across 77 long-term care facilities, including long term care facilities (LTCF) for the elderly, just 25pc of staff had been vaccinated.

The data was correct as of December 19.

Four LTFC's including a HSE run community nursing units, a nursing home and an intellectual disability unit reported that no staff had been vaccinated against the flu.

The report found that across 45 hospitals less than a third of staff have 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 vaccine.

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

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

Of the country’s larger hospitals a number reported vaccination rates of less than 20pc.

These included:

•Mayo General Hospital (13.9pc)

•University Maternity Hospital Limerick (14pc)

•The Mater Hospital (17pc)

•Waterford University Hospital (17.7pc)

•University Hospital Galway (17.9pc)

•South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel (19.8pc)

The hospitals where staff had high uptake levels for the vaccine were:

•Temple Street (58.3pc)

•The Rotunda (48.4pc)

•The Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s Hospital Tallaght (46.5pc)

•Our Lady’s Hospital for sick Children in Crumlin (45.9pc)

•Beaumont Hospital (45.3pc)

Minister Simon Harris has come under fire for suggesting that flu vaccinations for hospital staff could become mandatory.

Speaking this week the Minister quoted statistics which showed that less than 20pc of nurses had been vaccinated which he described as “disappointing” .

However, this is not the figure shown in the HSE’s provisional data which shows that just over 24pc of nurses have had the vaccine.

Despite repeated attempts to secure the more recent data referred to by Mr Harris neither the HSE nor his staff in the Department of Health were able to provide the figures showing less than 20pc uptake.


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