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Flu vaccine for healthcare workers

Seasonal Flu vaccine is available from October 2019 until the end of April 2020. 

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 family, 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 including those working in residential disability services
  • medical, nursing and allied health students including those working in residential disability services
  • general support staff
  • 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, peer vaccinator, 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
  • 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 might only have mild symptoms and continue to work. If you are symptomatic, please do not visit hospitals, residential care facilities or vulnerable people
  • Flu is highly transmissible and those who are infected can spread the disease, this increases the risk to their family, colleagues and to vulnerable patients

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 family, 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.

This year the HSE aims to achieve a target of 65% flu vaccine uptake among healthcare workers.

In 2018/2019:

  • Uptake among all hospital healthcare workers was 53% ( an increase of 9 % from the previous season)
  • Uptake varied by HSE Hospital Group.the highest uptake reported in ‘Dublin North East Hospital Group (RCSI)’ where uptake was 68%.
  • Uptake varied by HSE staff category the highest uptake was reported among ‘medical and dental’ professionals (uptake was 72%  and lowest among ‘general support’ staff (uptake was 43%).
  • Uptake among healthcare workers working in long-term care facilities (LTCF) was 42.2% (an increase of 9% from previous season)
  • 18% of LTCFs exceeded the 60% national uptake target
  • Uptake varied by Community Health Organisation (CHO) (range 30.2-52.9%) with the highest uptake reported in CHO9 (53%)
  • Uptake varied by HSE staff category (37.9-56.8%); the highest value was reported among ‘health and social care’ professionals (57% uptake) and lowest among ‘general support’ staff (38% uptake)
Healthcare Workers Flu Poster