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Low vaccination rates endanger patients

19th September 2005

Low rates of flu vaccination among hospital workers could be risking the lives of frail elderly patients, according to research published in the latest issue of Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Less than eight per cent of nurses and healthcare assistants surveyed in two Liverpool hospitals said they had annual flu injections.

This is contrary to reports in nursing and care facilities where the rates of vaccination are generally high, to keep flu rates among patients at a minimum.

Twenty-nine per cent of the 144 hospital workers who took part in the study said they did not feel they needed to be vaccinated, 18 per cent were not aware of the vaccine and 11 per cent were concerned about the side effects.

"Vaccinating healthcare workers against flu can reduce staff sickness and winter pressures as well as reducing deaths among frail older patients," said Dr Helen Canning, who carried out her research at the University of Liverpool.

"Our study found that the main reason for poor vaccine uptake was a basic lack of knowledge and understanding of the vaccine, especially regarding benefits and side-effects.

"Many of the respondents appeared to demonstrate general apathy towards the flu vaccination.

However, only ten per cent knew that the benefits of the vaccine included protecting patients against the serious complications of flu.

"One encouraging finding from our study was that half of those who had not been vaccinated stated that they might be influenced to have the vaccine in future," Dr Canning added.