Flu risk from staff to patients16th December 2008
Statistics from the Health Protection Agency have shown that less than one in seven NHS staff received a flu jab last year.
Experts have warned that they may be placing the people they treat at risk of catching the virus, which can prove fatal to very ill and elderly patients.
Every year, flu causes the deaths of a few thousand people in the UK.
The rate of medical staff receiving jabs is "the lowest rate since monitoring began in 2001" and doctors and nurses are the least likely to get the jab.
Medical staff in Scotland had a rate of slightly above one in five.
According to a study in the PLoS Medicine journal, if seven medical staff members were vaccinated against the virus, it would stop one patient from becoming ill.
Research has shown that many medical staff do not believe that they should get the jabs because they do not have flu or they think that receiving the vaccine will make them ill.
Other staff reported that they did not have "the time" to get the jab.
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "It's very worrying."
"It is putting patients at risk - not only from catching flu but from staff being off sick. Healthcare workers have a moral duty to get the vaccine."
He added that family doctors and NHS Direct had see increasing numbers of people who had flu and said the festive period could see an "outbreak".
The spokeswoman for the HPA said: "We know the importance of vaccinating health care workers with the flu jab."
"Health care workers are an important group to target for the flu jab - both for their own health and to protect high risk patients."
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Title: Flu risk from staff to patients
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9589
Date Added: 16th Dec 2008