With winter approaching, staff are being reminded to look after their health by getting a flu jab. Not only will it help protect you, but it will also help stop infection spreading to family members, patients and colleagues. This year the aim is to vaccinate 50 per cent of the workforce.
A recent survey has shown that many NHS Forth Valley staff are immunised by their GP, but that they forget to inform Occupational Health who are then left unaware of the actual total number of immunised staff. To help address this staff are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the Occupational Health Department on 01324 566663 to let them know if you have had the vaccine at your GP practice.
Head of Occupational Health Dorothy Bell-Sneddon said: “It is crucial for staff to get vaccinated every year as the flu viruses can mutate from one year to the next. Receiving regular vaccinations also protects against waning immunity. The vaccine only takes a couple of minutes and will protect you against flu for around a year.
“Staff working in areas where patients may be at greater risk of experiencing severe complications from flu, such as intensive care units, paediatric wards, cancer centres, care of the elderly wards or emergency facilities, are being encouraged to receive the flu vaccine as soon as it is available to reduce the risk of spreading infection.”
The 2015 flu campaign is now under way and will continue until the end of February 2016. It is supported with posters, leaflets, payslip messages and updates on the staff intranet.
Occupational Health will provide extended opening hours in the first two weeks of the campaign and then continue to provide daily immunisation clinics for staff throughout the winter months. An outreach service will be provided to all Community Hospitals – details of all clinic dates and times are available on the staff intranet.
This year, a small pilot study will also be undertaken in theatres where vaccinations will take place within the Department. Managers across the organisation will act as Flu Champions to encourage, enable and support their staff to take up the vaccine.
In addition, a newly created immunisation team has begun vaccinating primary school pupils against flu. Over the next three months, the vaccine will be offered to around 24,000 Forth Valley youngsters.The vaccinations will be carried out during school hours with children in P1 – P7 being offered the nasal spray, Fluenz Tetra®. The programme is being delivered in collaboration with local authority education departments.
Myth – The flu vaccine can give you flu
Fact – The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live virus so it’s impossible to catch flu simply by having the vaccine. Some patients may experience mild side effects but these are usually resolve without treatment. People who go on to develop colds and flu after having the vaccine are likely to have been infected before they were vaccinated or just after as the vaccine can take up to 10 days to work.
Myth – Flu is just a bad cold
Fact – Flu is a much more dangerous virus which can lead to serious infections and illness. It’s a contagious disease of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs) that can lead to complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis and encephalitis. It can cause worsening of chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Myth – Antibiotics can cure flu
Fact – Absolutely not. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Flu is caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. Sometimes people who experience complications as a result of flu can be given antibiotics because they develop a bacterial infection (such as pneumonia) – but these do not help treat flu.
Myth – The flu vaccine protects you straight away
Fact – It actually takes about ten days for you to be protected against flu after you get the vaccine – so theoretically you could be immunised and then pick up flu before you are fully protected. That is why it is best to get the vaccine as early as possible and before there’s lots of flu viruses circulating.
Myth – The vaccine isn’t effective
During the last 10 years, the flu vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains of flu, including swine flu, and the vaccine changes every year to help tackle the strains which are expected to be circulating.