Leadership message from Tracy Nicholls and Debra Winterson

Flu campaign 2019

It's that time of year again when we will be launching this years’ flu campaign. There will be a launch event in Melbourn on Monday 30th September for our vaccinators. 

The theme this year is entitled `Are you safe to care?’  - protecting our staff, patients and families through the winter is directly linked to safety. Flu can be a serious illness and for many people it may prove fatal. On average 8,000 people die from flu every year so it is relevant that we start our vaccinations early to increase protection from the virus.

We need to remember that flu is a highly infectious viral infection and can rapidly spread as we have seen in Australia this year. Frontline healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus, particularly during winter months when some of their patients will be infected. Estimates suggest that up to one in four healthcare workers may become infected with influenza during a mild influenza season - a much higher incidence than expected in the general population. 

Flu doesn't just affect us individually, but our families, friends and patients can all be affected too; even people with no symptoms can still infect others. It is highly likely that you can be infected with the flu virus but be completely asymptomatic however, as you see a number of patients throughout your shifts, you will be exposing them to the virus which could contribute to unnecessary morbidity and mortality in our most vulnerable patients. They do not have the immunity that we have developed as a community workforce and the virus could cause severe illness or death among at-risk groups, including older people pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition. 

Everyone is entitled to have a free flu jab regardless of your role. We are expecting everyone to complete the consent forms this year whether you have the jab or not. 

  • HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics stipulated that 'You must take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible'
  • You have a duty of care as professionals to patients to do everything in your power to protect them from infection, including being immunised against flu
  • Everyone is susceptible to flu, even if you are in good health and eat well
  • You can be infected with the virus and have no symptoms but can still pass it on to others
  • The impact of flu on frail and vulnerable patients can be fatal and outbreaks can cause severe disruption in communities and healthcare facilities
  • Good infection control measures can help to reduce the spread of flu, but are not sufficient alone to prevent the spread
  • The flu vaccine has a good safety record and will help protect you, your family, your colleagues and patients. Your actions can encourage your colleagues to do likewise
  • Having the flu vaccine cannot give you flu

 

If you have any questions regarding flu, please email the flu team via flu@eastamb.nhs.uk.

Tracy and Debra

Published 26th September 2019

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