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Doctors urged to set flu vaccine example

Doctors are being urged to get vaccinated against influenza and to encourage their colleagues to do so too.

A letter from BMA council chair Mark Porter and chief medical officer for England Professor Dame Sally Davies to all doctors in England says clinicians play a vital role in ensuring as many frontline staff as possible get vaccinated.

It says: ‘If you lead by example and encourage other staff to get vaccinated, your workforce will be protected against flu and won’t pass this on to patients. Doctors can help everyone in their team understand the importance of vaccination, and reassure staff and patients alike of the safety of the flu vaccine.’

Supporting evidence on the importance of the flu vaccine, available from the end of this month, sets out the low likelihood of side-effects from the vaccine and why vaccination is the most effective way of protecting staff, patients and doctors' families.

It says there is a variety of reasons why staff decline the vaccine. A survey of Leicestershire doctors found that one third of unvaccinated clinician respondents felt universal infection control practices were sufficient. One third felt having a good diet and taking vitamins or supplements worked as well or better than the vaccine.

The guide says: ’Although infection control measures are vital and a good diet is encouraged, neither action alone will prevent influenza.’

The uptake of seasonal flu vaccination among NHS staff in England is about 45 per cent.

NHS staff across the UK will also be encouraged to have the vaccination. Each NHS hospital in Scotland, for example, will have staff vaccination champions to ensure the jab is available and staff are encourage to have it.

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