Appeal for doctors to get flu jab

DOCTORS are being urged to get the seasonal flu vaccine by the Department of Health.

New figures from the DoH show that just over 38 per cent of GPs and 37 per cent of other doctors were vaccinated against flu last winter. The number of healthcare workers getting the vaccine increased from 26.4 per cent in winter 2009 to almost 35 per cent in 2010.

Despite the upward trend, the DoH is calling on more doctors to protect themselves against flu before this winter.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said: “NHS staff face increased pressure over winter, especially if there is a severe flu season. They keep the NHS running and it is vital that they protect themselves, their patients and families from the potentially serious effects of flu that they are exposed to over the winter period.

“It is never too early to start thinking about flu. So as NHS staff return from their holidays, I urge them to plan ahead and get vaccinated.”

The DoH figures revealed hospital nurses and midwives were least likely to have the seasonal flu jab, with an uptake of just 30 per cent last winter. GP practice nurses had the highest uptake at 42.5 per cent.

Last winter, people in at-risk groups were 11 times more likely to die from seasonal flu than people with no underlying health problems. This risk increased for some specific health conditions. The highest risk group was people with chronic liver disease who were 48 times more likely to die if they developed flu than people with no underlying health problems.

Last year, uptake among over-65s in at-risk groups remained around the same level as winter 2009 at almost 73 per cent. But there was a big increase in uptake among children aged six months to two-year-olds, rising from 16.5 per cent in 2009 to just over 25 per cent last winter.

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