A new project to encourage more care home staff to get the flu vaccine has been launched by researchers at the University of East Anglia.
The £1.4 million study will test different ways of encouraging workers to take up the jab, such as community pharmacists vaccinating staff in the care home and offering incentives to managers.
The approaches will initially be tested in 10 care homes during flu season.
The team will then go on to work with another 70 care homes with low vaccination levels to see if the new methods have led to an increase in both uptake of the vaccine and the health of residents.
Experts hope the project will ultimately help to reduce the number of flu cases in care homes.
Less than half of care home staff in the UK are currently vaccinated.
“Every year flu, caught from staff and visitors, causes serious illness and death in care home residents," Dr Amrish Patel from the UEA said.
“While vaccines work in most people, there are always some for whom they do not work. That means that if we give vaccines to care home residents, some will still not be protected.
“The best way to protect residents is therefore to vaccinate care home staff as well. But while the World Health Organisation recommends that over three quarters of care home staff should be vaccinated, in the UK - less than half of staff take up the jab. And this puts residents at higher risk.”Prof David Wright added: “We have found three reasons for why staff do or do not get vaccinated. These are - how easily they can access vaccines, how important their manager sees staff vaccination, and their own personal attitudes and beliefs about vaccination.
“We want to find out which approaches work best to increase the number of staff being vaccinated. We hope that what we learn can also be used to improve Covid vaccine uptake.”