Successful staff flu campaign sees NHS Fife smash the 60% Scottish Government target
Published: Friday 24 Jan 2020
NHS Fife has achieved its most successful ever staff flu immunisation campaign, already exceeding the Scottish Government’s 60% vaccination target in the process.
So far, this winter 65.2% of health care staff in Fife have been vaccinated against flu, and with the campaign still active this number is expected to rise further.
Whilst flu is really unpleasant for anyone catching the virus the symptoms usually will pass in a week or so. For those with underlying health conditions, however, the virus can potentially prove deadly – those with an underlying condition are 18 times more likely to die as a result of flu.
The virus also has a considerable impact on hospitals in Fife each winter when the demand for healthcare services are at their peak. In addition to contributing towards a rise in admissions to hospital, flu also leads to higher levels of staff absence and results in temporary ward closures and sometimes restrictions on visiting.
Recent years have seen a dramatic upturn in the numbers of healthcare staff receiving their flu jabs in Fife. Where it was once common for only around 25-30% of healthcare staff in Fife to be vaccinated against flu, the last three years have seen uptake of the jab remain consistently above 55%, making NHS Fife one of the best performing Boards in Scotland over the period.
A number of factors have been attributed for the improvement in uptake. An overhaul of the way the flu jab is delivered in Fife, coupled with a bold Star Wars-themed publicity campaign, has made the campaign more visible and brought it closer to frontline healthcare staff
Over recent years, an ever increasing number of peer vaccinators have been recruited in wards and services across the Kingdom, each vaccinating colleagues in their local area. This is a considerable development from the previous model where staff would only be able to access vaccination at clinics in set times and locations. More than 50% of vaccinations carried out in the staff flu vaccination campaign this year have been completed by peer vaccinators.
The Scottish Government target of 60% was introduced for the first time in 2018, having previously been set at 50%. This is the first year that this new target has been met in Fife.
NHS Fife Director of Public Health, Dona Milne, said of the achievement:
“Health and social care staff are amongst those most likely to spread the flu virus and are very often caring for individuals who are at the greatest risk of its effects.
“I am particularly delighted, therefore, that so many of our staff have taken up the offer of the flu jab this year.
“We are very lucky in NHS Fife to have a dedicated group of peer vaccinators who have gone to great lengths to vaccinate as many of their colleagues as possible, often even giving up their free time to do so.
“We are seeing flu circulating in our communities, but it is not too late to get vaccinated. People who have been invited to have the vaccine can still take up that offer and the staff vaccination campaign is still active and so it’s not too late for any members of health and social care staff who still wish to get vaccinated.”