Flu vaccination for NHS staff

Please note: this page contains information about the flu vaccine for staff only.

Every year the influenza vaccination is offered to NHS staff as a way to reduce the risk of staff contracting the flu virus and transmitting it to patients or their family members. Healthcare workers may transmit the illness to patients even if they are mildly or sub-clinically infected.

Influenza is a highly transmissible infection. Our occupational health team leads the delivery of vaccinations across the trust. Contact details for your site can be found at the end of this page.

Why should we worry about influenza?

Influenza can cause a spectrum of mild to severe illness, even among people who were previously fit and well. The capacity for the virus to mutate or change, and the duration of the protection from the vaccine (about one season), are the main reasons that the vaccine is tailored each year to protect against the most commonly circulating strains. This means annual vaccination is necessary.

Why is flu vaccination important for clinical staff?

Frontline healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to the influenza virus, particularly during winter months when some of their patients will be infected. It has been estimated that up to one in four healthcare workers may become infected with influenza during a mild influenza season – a much higher incidence than expected in the general population.

Protecting yourself against flu

Vaccination of healthcare workers is advised to not only protect the healthcare workers, but also their family members as well as their patients. By protecting yourself against flu, you also set an example to colleagues and peers, as well as showing your commitment to providing high quality, compassionate care.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The vaccine is 60-70% effective depending on the age and health of the person receiving it and on how well the composition of the vaccine matches the circulating influenza strains.

How safe is the flu vaccine?

The most common side effect can be bruising or local muscular stiffness at the injection site (10-64%). In addition, low grade fever, malaise, shivering, fatigue, headache, myalgia (muscle pain) and arthralgia (joint pain) are among the symptoms commonly noticed after intramuscular or intradermal vaccination. If you experience any other side effects, please get in touch with occupational health.

Flu-like symptoms experienced by people who have recently received the vaccine are not caused by influenza but could be due to either the body's immune response to the vaccine or one of many other circulating respiratory viruses. Since it can take up to two weeks following vaccination to develop immunity to influenza, it is possible to develop influenza if exposed to influenza illness during this period.

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

No study to date has demonstrated an increased risk of either maternal complications or adverse foetal outcomes associated with inactivated influenza vaccine. In fact there are benefits to both mother and child and since 2010, inactivated influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant mothers.