STAFF at a hospital in Ashbourne have joined the largest ever NHS staff flu vaccination campaign to protect themselves and their patients this winter.
The vaccination programme, at St Oswald’s hospital, is part of the NHS Flu Fighter campaign to encourage healthcare staff to get their free seasonal flu jabs and help prevent the potentially life-threatening infection.
The hospital is aiming to reduce the spread of flu by vaccinating as many of its staff as possible.
Carolyn White, chief nurse and director of quality for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “We are wholeheartedly behind this campaign to protect staff and their patients from flu.
“Our team of vaccinators began this week to offer staff their flu jabs.
“It is especially important that frontline staff looking after some of the most vulnerable patients in our care take up this opportunity to help prevent catching flu or passing the virus on to patients.”
Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust has created its own jab-o-meter to chart progress towards getting staff vaccinated against flu over the next few weeks.
As well as hospital-based staff, the vaccinations are also being offered to the trust’s therapy and nursing staff who work out in the community, visiting patients at home.
Community staff nurse Joe Pons Laplana was one of the first to have his flu vaccination saying: “I’ve had my flu jab this week and am encouraging my colleagues to have theirs.”
Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers’ Organisation, said: “Flu targets people who are weakened and vulnerable, so it’s crucial the NHS does everything it can to keep the virus away from patients.”
Last year the flu season led to more than 100 deaths in the UK and affected thousands of people.
Annual flu-related admissions into intensive care or high-dependency units also increased last year.
Each winter East Midlands Ambulance Service says its operators see an increase in the number of 999 calls, and many calls for help are from people suffering from flu.
Currently, half of all NHS staff are vaccinated but 108,000 more staff are now getting vaccinated compared to two years ago.
Support provided by the national NHS Flu Fighter Campaign includes guidance and campaign materials, explaining the dangers of flu and why vaccination offers prevention against its spread to vulnerable patients.