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Parliamentary committee deprecates lack of information on care workers’ flu jabs

October 19, 2019

A report from the House of Commons science and technology select committee has voiced politicians’ concerns data on flu vaccine take-up by social care staff is not routinely collected.

Their inquiry heard that an ad hoc Public Health England (PHE) survey of care homes had shown“huge variability, with the best uptake at 25%” and a low response rate to PHE’s questions.

Committee chair Norman Lamb said it was as important for social care staff, including those who work in care homes, to be vaccinated as it was for hospital staff, if not more so.

“The flu season is upon us again and it’s outrageous that so few social care staff appear to be vaccinated,” said Mr Lamb.

“Some of our most vulnerable people are living in care homes and more must be done to protect them. Everyone caring for the elderly and infirm should see it as a professional duty to minimise the risk of passing on flu.

“Data is not routinely collected on uptake rates and any data that is collected is not published – this is a significant flaw in the system. Publishing data could be a key tool in further encouraging uptake of the vaccine.

“The Government should aim for 100% vaccination of social care workers to ensure the protection of those most vulnerable to the effects of flu.”

The committee is calling for a government review by the end of February 2019 to establish whether there is a case for mandatory vaccination “for certain categories of healthcare workers”. That would include all those who work with the most vulnerable patients.

The charity Age UK has urged older people and those who care for them to be vaccinated. “Older people who need care or are in care settings are all too often vulnerable and can be more susceptible to flu,” said the charity’s director Caroline Abrahams.

“It is vital that older people and the care workers who care for them are vaccinated, which means better implementation across the care sector and better rollout across the country.”

Norman Lamb

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