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National flu vaccination campaign launches for NHS staff

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Employers, unions and the Government have joined forces to launch the first ever national flu vaccination campaign for NHS workers, in a bid to reduce the impact of seasonal flu on its patients and its services.

It follows figures showing that only a third (35%) of front-line health workers had seasonal flu vaccinations last year, up from just a quarter the previous year, and this varies between trusts from over 90% to under 10%.

Last flu season over 600 deaths in the UK were directly caused by flu and many more were related to it. The National NHS Staff Seasonal Flu Vaccination Campaign aims to protect as many NHS staff in England as possible so that they do not transmit flu to colleagues, their families and vulnerable patients - for whom the virus can be fatal. It also aims to embed staff flu vaccinations in NHS culture.

The campaign will help raise awareness among staff from September and throughout the coming flu season, using widespread communications to explain why getting the jab is important while helping ensure local arrangements are in place for staff to receive jabs quickly, where and whenever they are working. The NHS Employers organisation is running the campaign on behalf of the Social Partnership Forum, bringing together NHS employers, trade unions and the Department of Health.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: "We want to help NHS staff to fight the flu, to protect the services they provide, their families and their patients. Flu has a hugely negative impact on the NHS and is fatal in too many cases.

"By working together we can achieve enough vaccinations to dramatically reduce the current high risk of flu spreading within the NHS.

"This campaign will drive up vaccination rates by explaining that it is safe, showing how important it is and helping local organisations to deliver jabs quickly and conveniently. We want staff vaccinations to eventually become as commonplace in the NHS as washing your hands. In some health trusts over 90% of front-line staff are vaccinated, which is fantastic.

"Organisations throughout England are strongly backing this campaign and we believe staff will come out equally strongly in support, especially given the excellent help and backing being provided by their unions. "This year's vaccine is the best possible formula to protect people against seasonal flu and H1N1."