FRONTLINE health workers on Wearside today joined a major campaign to fight flu.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new drive to get as many workers as possible vaccinated against seasonal influenza in order to protect patients, many of whom are particularly vulnerable to the illness.
These include pregnant women and anyone with long-term condition such as diabetes, asthma or heart and chest problems.
Others include people undergoing medical treatment who may have a weakened immune system, those with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy, and anyone aged 65 or over.
The Wearside trust’s chief executive, medical director and director of nursing were among those receiving the first injections, which are free to at-risk groups, in a bid to encourage staff to do the same.
Les Boobis, medical director at the trust, which runs Sunderland Royal Hospital and Eye Infirmary, said: “Last year, the trust experienced tremendous pressure on services due to the number of cases of infection with H1N1 influenza and, as a result, we need to ensure our workforce is as resilient as possible during the busy winter months.
“The trust has encouraged staff to be vaccinated in previous years and last year we were pleased to have the highest uptake within the region, and this year we would like to see even more staff vaccinated.”
Building on the success of previous drives, the trust has more than 80 ward department-based vaccinators to ensure flexibility and achieve maximum take-up.
The Occupational Health and Practice Development teams will not only support the vaccinators, but also provide additional drop in sessions.
“We will work with staff to make it as quick and easy as possible for them to receive vaccinations as there is a real need for those who provide direct care to patients to be vaccinated in order to protect themselves, those in their care and also their families, many of whom are particularly vulnerable to flu,” said Mr Boobis.
“However, it isn’t only frontline staff who should be considering vaccination, as all staff play a vital part in the delivery of services to patients and absence due to flu can cause staffing difficulties.”