NHS Fife has achieved its most successful ever staff flu immunisation campaign, smashing the Scottish Government’s 60% vaccination target in the process.
So far this winter, 65.2% of healthcare staff in Fife have been vaccinated against flu, and the number is expected to rise further still in the coming weeks.
While unpleasant, flu symptoms usually pass in a week or so but for those with underlying health conditions the virus can prove deadly as they are 18 times more likely to die as a result of flu.
The virus also has a considerable impact on hospitals in Fife each winter when the demand for healthcare services are at their peak.
In addition to contributing towards a rise in admissions to hospital, flu also leads to higher levels of staff absence and results in temporary ward closures and sometimes restrictions on visiting.
Dona Milne, NHS Fife director of public health, said: “Health and social care staff are amongst those most likely to spread the flu virus and are very often caring for individuals who are at the greatest risk of its effects.
“I am particularly delighted, therefore, that so many of our staff have taken up the offer of the flu jab this year.
“We are very lucky in NHS Fife to have a dedicated group of peer vaccinators who have gone to great lengths to vaccinate as many of their colleagues as possible, often even giving up their free time to do so.”
Recent years have seen a dramatic upturn in the numbers of healthcare staff receiving their flu jabs in Fife.
Where it was once common for only around 25 to 30% of healthcare staff in Fife to be vaccinated against flu, the last three years have seen uptake of the jab remain consistently above 55%, making NHS Fife one of the best performing boards in Scotland over the period.
Health chiefs believe an overhaul of the way the flu jab is delivered in Fife, coupled with a bold Star Wars-themed publicity campaign, has made the campaign more visible and brought it closer to frontline healthcare staff
Over recent years, an ever increasing number of peer vaccinators have also been recruited in wards and services across the Kingdom, each vaccinating colleagues in their area.
The Scottish Government target of 60% was introduced for the first time in 2018, having previously been set at 50%, and this is the first year that this new target has been met in Fife.
“We are seeing flu circulating in our communities, but it is not too late to get vaccinated,” Ms Milne added.
“People who have been invited to have the vaccine can still take up that offer and the staff vaccination campaign is still active and so it’s not too late for any members of health and social care staff who still wish to get vaccinated.”