MPs have called on the social care regulator to “take action” in care homes where poor staff flu immunisation rates (or poor recording of uptake) could impact on standards of infection prevention and control.
In a report, the science and technology committee MPs say they are shocked by survey results from Public Health England which showed that the best flu vaccination uptake in social care settings was around 25 per cent.
They said: “We welcome the extension of the NHS programme to frontline social care workers. We call on the Government to look at ways in which uptake among social care staff could be improved. There should be an expectation of full coverage amongst staff working with individuals who are most at risk from serious illness from flu.”
In the report, MPs ask for an effective system of data collection to be in place by the 2019/20 flu season.
Social care workers are eligible for free NHS flu vaccinations in the 2018/19 flu vaccination programme and are included to “complement, not replace, any established occupational health schemes that employers have in place to offer the flu vaccination to their workforce”.
The report also offers a review of the 2017/18 winter period, which saw the most severe flu outbreak since 2010/11. NHS Improvement have estimated that up to 4,000 beds each day could have been used by flu patients, and that at the peak of the season up to 500 patients were admitted with flu per week—significantly more than in previous winter flu seasons.
In the 2018/19 season, people aged over 65 are being offered a different (adjuvanted) vaccine to other adults, which is estimated to improve flu vaccine effectiveness in this age group by 20 per cent
This new vaccine for over-65s has been described as a “game-changer”.