Every healthcare professional working in high-risk areas should have to get the flu vaccine, a new report has recommended.
The Influenza Vaccination of Healthcare Workers report led by the Faculties of Occupational Medicine, Pathology and Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians says that the jab should be made compulsory for those working in areas like emergency departments, cancer wards and intensive care.
Medical staff are ten times more likely to get the flu than other people and the RCPI says patients' needs must take priority over the personal choice of workers.
The report says that flu vaccination uptake in healthcare workers stands at 45% in the 2017/2018 season. However, this level is "still inadequate to provide the so-called ‘ring of protective immunity’ around vulnerable hospital patients during the influenza season", according to the RCPI.
They reference North America, where mandatory vaccination has been used widely and has achieved uptake levels over 90%.
The Faculties of Occupational Medicine, Pathology and Public Health Medicine recommend that those healthcare workers who refuse the vaccination should wear a mask for the duration of the flu season when interacting with patients.