1. ITV Report

New enhanced flu jab could save 700 lives but why did a third of frontline NHS staff miss vaccination last year?

Some NHS staff wrongly thought the flu vaccine could give them flu. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nurse for England, said that "myths" around the flu vaccine are wrongly believed by NHS staff including the “big one” that it gives people flu.

Last winter only around two-thirds of NHS frontline staff received the flu jab although many were unlikely to be doctors and nurses.

Health officials are now hoping to achieve “near universal” coverage to help protect patients.

This comes as a new analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows that a more effective vaccine for over-65s this year could protect them against three strains of flu.

According to analysis by PHE, the new jab in England could lead to:

fewer GP consultations
fewer hospilisations
hospital deaths prevented

More than 15,000 excessive deaths were attributable to flu last season, figures show.

Professor Cummings added that anything up to half of staff may have the flu virus without recognising that they are ill.

The flu vaccine does not contain any live viruses and cannot cause flu, though some people may experience a slight temperature and aching muscles afterwards.

She added: “It’s really important we make it as easy as possible for staff and we give them the full facts.

“Of course, all of us as clinicians have a duty of care to our patients, so we are actually working really hard with staff this year to have the vaccine.”

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The quadrivalent vaccine, protecting against four strains, will be offered to all eligible adults under the age of 65, including pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions from early October.

It will be offered to 24 million people this year after it was announced the programme had been extended making it available for children in Year Five, children in Reception to Year Four, social workers and frontline healthcare workers.

The vaccine will eventually be offered to all primary school-aged children.

The jab will be rolled out from early October to 24 million people. Credit: PA

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, warned that flu is “potentially a very serious illness" with adults over 65 more likely to catch it and have complications.

He said: “By introducing an enhanced flu vaccine for this age group they will be better protected as well as helping to reduce the spread of flu to those around them.

“We encourage everyone who is eligible to get the flu vaccine from their general practice or pharmacy before the end of November.”