Flu jab roll out for workers

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A raft of measures - including free immunisation for care home staff - have been introduced in a bid to combat future outbreaks of flu in the borough.

Health chiefs introduced the measures ahead of the flu season, believing forking out for treatment would be more cost-effective by reducing sick days taken by workers.

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Immunisation is already offered to care home residents but a report to members on the council’s health scrutiny committee found flaws in the plan.

The report highlight 40 reported incidents of influenza in the borough’s care homes between September last year and this February.

But it says a number of those residents affected had previously been immunised.

It also reports outbreaks of Influenza B, found in a number of care homes is from a strain not covered by the current vaccine.

However, it hailed the success of the staff immunisation programme.

The report, penned by Kate Ardern, council director of public health, continues: “This scheme involved qualified clinicians visiting care homes on two occasions to immunise staff working there free of charge, in works time.

“Flu champions were also recruited in the care homes to highlight the immunize programme and encourage colleagues to participate in the voluntary programme to be immunised.

“Prior to the inception of this scheme staff would have to pay for the prescription and be immunised in their own time; some employers would refund the cost of the prescription at a later date.

“Most employees in the care home sector are on low pay, so being able to be vaccinated at no cost during working hours is a big incentive to do so; protecting both the residents they are caring for and their own income – large numbers of care professionals do not receive sick pay.

“For domiciliary workers four sessions were set up across the borough for them to attend. Immunisation is the most effective proactive preventative measures to mitigate against influenza.

“Anecdotally, it is suggested that immunisation levels amongst carers has increased this season. Anecdotal evidence suggests at this stage a high immunisation uptake by residents.

“A high number of those screened positive for flu had received their vaccine; evidence is emerging that the vaccine used in UK is less effective in the over 65’s.”