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Flu vaccine for healthcare workers

Healthcare workers prevent the spread of flu and save lives by getting the flu vaccine. The best way to protect you, your family and your patients is to get this year's vaccine. You can pass the flu virus to somebody you care for even before you know that you are sick.

Healthcare workers are at an increased risk of exposure and infection. At least 20% of healthcare workers are infected with flu every year and many continue to work while being ill. This increases the risk to colleagues and patients.

People who are 65 and over, or people with long-term medical conditions, often have weaker immune systems. As these groups are more likely to be in hospitals and long-term care facilities they rely on the immunity of those who care for them.

Research in European healthcare institutions shows a link between increased vaccinations and a reduction in the rates of flu-like illness. This means less hospitalisation and deaths from flu in the elderly and a reduction in healthcare worker sick leave.

Who should get vaccinated?

We recommend everyone working in a healthcare setting to get the flu vaccine including:

  • medical, nursing and allied health professionals
  • medical, nursing and allied health students
  • dental personnel
  • hospital porters and cleaners
  • ambulance personnel
  • carers and home helps
  • all GP practice staff
  • agency staff who fall into the above categories.

We also recommend the flu for other at-risk groups.

Should pregnant healthcare workers be vaccinated?

Yes. We recommend the seasonal flu vaccine for all pregnant women. Pregnant women are more likely to get complications from flu. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

How do I get vaccinated?

Contact your line manager, occupational health department, GP or pharmacist.

HSELanD eLearning Programme

An eLearning Programme "The Flu Vaccine - Its a Lifesaver" is now available for all HSE staff and staff from HSE Funded Services on HSELanD

The module has been developed by the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit to educate and inform healthcare workers about the flu vaccine. 

If you have any comments or queries about the module please contact the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit at hr.wellbeing@hse.ie

More information

  • Healthcare workers are at an increased risk of flu infection compared to the general adult population
  • Even healthy people can get seriously ill from flu
  • You might only have mild symptoms and continue to work
  • Flu is highly transmissible and those who are infected can spread the disease, this increases the risk to their colleagues and patients
  • Flu can be transmitted from 1 day before (asymptomatic) and for 3 to 5 days after developing symptoms, during which time patients and colleagues could become infected

You may only have mild symptoms and continue to go to work. Flu can be transmitted from 1 day before (asymptomatic) and for 3 to 5 days after developing symptoms, during which time patients and colleagues could be infected

Infection prevention and control procedures, such as hand hygiene, are essential in healthcare settings but they will not prevent flu.

Vaccination is the best protection against flu.

There are always other viruses circulating that can cause symptoms similar to flu. The vaccine only protects against flu and not other viruses.

You might have been exposed to flu around the time of the vaccination or during the two-week period it takes to develop immunity.

Seasonal flu vaccines have been manufactured for over 60 years and millions of vaccines have been used worldwide. Narcolepsy has not been reported following seasonal flu vaccination.

Narcolepsy was associated with one of the flu vaccines (Pandemrix) manufactured in 2009 in response to the influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 pandemic. Pandemrix has not been used since 2011.

 

Guillain Barré syndrome has on rare occasions been temporally associated with flu vaccination.

The risk of developing Guillain Barré syndrome after flu vaccine is lower than the chances of developing it following flu infection.

This year the HSE aims to achieve a target of 40% flu vaccine uptake among healthcare workers.

In 2016/2017 there was:

  • an annual increase in hospital staff (31.6% compared to 22.5%)
  • an annual increase in long-term care facility staff (29.8% compared to 26.6%)
  • the highest uptake in medical and dental staff and the lowest in nursing staff.
  • 15 hospitals and 32 long-term care facility with more than 40% uptake
Healthcare Workers Flu Poster