Staff at one of the largest integrated healthcare Trusts in the country are helping children from some of the poorest communities in the world, simply by getting their flu jab.
The innovative ‘Get a Jab, Give a Jab’ campaign will see London North West Healthcare NHS Trust purchase ten tetanus vaccines for every staff member who has the flu jab this winter.
Purchased through Unicef, the world's leading organisation working for children in danger, the vaccines will protect children in Africa against neonatal tetanus, a deadly disease affecting populations with little or no access to basic healthcare services and education.
The disease, which was eliminated in the industrialised world as far back as the 1950s, is still a major killer of infants in the developing world.
Amanda Pye, Chief Nurse at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “With over 8,000 people dying in England each year, flu is a nasty and potentially life-threatening virus, especially for the vulnerable people we care for at our hospitals and community services.
“As healthcare professionals we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect ourselves, our families and our patients, and I am really proud of all our staff who have had their flu jab to date. They are not only protecting themselves and those close to them in this country; they are also protecting vulnerable young lives across the world.”
In the first two weeks of the Trust’s flu campaign, over 1,800 members of staff have had their flu jab. This means more than 18,000 tetanus vaccines have already been purchased.
Senior Pharmacist Helen Rowlandson had the flu jab for the first time last year and will be getting the vaccine again in 2017.
She said: “I had the flu jab for the first time last year. The reason that I didn’t have the flu jab before is that I’m quite needle-phobic, I really don’t like needles.
“I also thought that I’m young and healthy, and if I got flu, I might be very ill for a while, but I’d probably recover. What changed my mind was thinking that for me, working in a hospital, I might be able to get over the flu, but the patients I’m seeing every day might not be able to.
“We’re supposed to be there to help patients, but if I didn’t get the flu vaccine and passed on flu, I’d be doing them a disservice - that’s why I will be having the flu jab again this year.”
The flu jab is not compulsory for NHS staff but getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of influenza and prevent deaths. It can also ease pressures that a heavy flu outbreak would place on health services, like those seen recently in Australia and New Zealand.
Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The harsh reality is that flu can kill and the best way to protect yourself is to get the jab. With more people eligible than ever before and the vaccine available in more locations, people should protect themselves and those around them from flu. Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”