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Patients at risk from low uptake of flu vaccine by healthcare workers

4th November 2013 - Colm Burke TD

More responsible approach to stemming the spread of influenza needs to be taken


Fine Gael Cork North Central Senator and Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Colm Burke, today (Sunday) highlighted the need for healthcare workers to become more active in preventing the spread of influenza this winter.


The call comes after figures released by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre indicate that only 17.4% of healthcare workers took up the seasonal influenza vaccine during the 2012/2013 flu season.


“Influenza remains the leading cause of death from infectious disease among the elderly population and those whose immune system is already weakened. Due to its highly infectious nature it can be easily passed from person to person.


“Immunisation is one of the most effective healthcare interventions to stem that infection. It is therefore unacceptable that healthcare workers may, unintentionally, be a source of infection by failing to take up the vaccine.


“Seasonal flu outbreaks place a tremendous strain upon the health system and have significant implication for the annual health budget, the cost of which can be very difficult to forecast. The HSE already has in place a set of Immunisations Guidelines, prepared by the Royal College of Physicians, which recommend that all healthcare workers in hospitals and residential care facilities, including medical, nursing, paramedical staff, together with porters and cleaning providers, should be offered vaccination against influenza each autumn.


“While immunisation is only one part of a wider policy to prevent the transmission of influenza, a pro-active approach by health workers in taking up the vaccine makes for good practice and further protects patients.


“The HSE, private healthcare providers and all those working in the health care sector must adopt a more responsible approach to actively stem the spread of influenza, which can be a real threat to the most vulnerable of patients.”

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