Frontline staff caring for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 are being prioritised as part of a campaign this year to protect vital NHS services and patients during the pandemic.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is launching a major vaccination programme to offer the flu jab to all clinical and non-clinical staff at Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull Women and Children’s Hospital, Hull Eye Hospital, the Queen’s Centre and Castle Hill Hospital.
Last year, around 83 per cent of trust staff received the flu vaccine to protect them, their families and their patients from the virus.
As the trust prepares for a potential second wave of Covid-19 over the winter months, plans are also under way to ensure as many staff as possible are vaccinated against flu, with staff working on wards with Covid-19 patients or other clinically vulnerable patients prioritised.
Chief Executive Chris Long said: “This year, more than any other year before, it is essential that as many people as possible are vaccinated against the flu.
“We know health care workers are at greater risk of catching flu because of their increased exposure to illnesses so we want to do everything possible to protect our staff from what can be a very serious illness.
“We need our people to be fit and healthy, especially this year, so they are there to look after people when they need us most. Each and every one of us also needs to do everything we can to prevent spreading the flu to our patients, who are already seriously ill.”
Around 200 vaccinators have been trained by the trust’s Occupational Health team to deliver the vaccine in every ward and clinic across all hospitals. Vaccinators will be available to offer the jab to shift workers.
Non-clinical staff will also be able to attend special, socially-distanced clinics at both Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital to receive their vaccine.
Adults who are at most risk of flu are being urged to take up the offer of a free flu jab. They include includes pregnant women, those with a long-term condition like a heart problem, kidney disease, severe asthma or those with lowered immunity. People with a BMI of 40 and above, those with learning disabilities, neurological conditions, problems with spleens, diabetes or those who have had a stroke should also get a free flu vaccine.
The free jab scheme is also being extended this year to those on the NHS Shielded Patient List for Covid-19, health and social care workers employed through personal budgets to deliver domiciliary care and children aged 11 by December 31.
Later in the year, the free flu vaccine may be given to people aged 50 to 64. More information on this will become available over the next few weeks. However, if you’re aged 50 to 64 and in an at-risk group, you should not delay having your flu vaccine.
Mr Long said it was crucial that those eligible for a free flu jab took up the offer to protect the NHS this winter.
He said: “The public can help us by getting their own flu vaccine. If we all play a part in protecting ourselves, our families and our communities from the flu, it means we’ve got a better chance of ensuring hospital services can keep running even if we are hit by a second wave of Covid-19.
“Getting the flu vaccine means we’re less likely to be overwhelmed by severe cases of the flu at the same time as we’re trying to help people who may catch Covid-19 if there is a second wave.”
[Allison Coggan – Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust]