Intended for healthcare professionals


Flu vaccination for staff may become contractual duty, says chief medical officer

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 07 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4129
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. London

Employers should consider making it a contractual duty for NHS staff to have the annual flu vaccination to protect vulnerable patients from catching the disease, England’s chief medical officer has suggested to MPs.

Sally Davies told the House of Commons science and technology committee that she believed that staff should be obliged to have the vaccination each year, during an evidence session on Davies’s work held on 6 June.

Asked by MPs whether it should be mandatory for all health and social care staff to get the flu vaccination, she said, “I feel strongly that, if you look at the General Medical Council and the nursing guidance, we have a duty of care to our patients and we should therefore be vaccinated.

“By steady progress, vaccination levels have gone up, but they are variable between hospitals. It would be difficult to make it mandatory . . . but I do think consideration should be given to making it a contractual duty, just like hepatitis B vaccine is. I think it won’t work, just saying you’ve got to have flu vaccine—it’s got to be a contractual obligation, as you join a hospital or something.”

Personal choice

Uptake figures from the latest round of flu vaccination were issued in March, showing that 70.3% of all eligible frontline healthcare workers had received their flu vaccination so far—the highest uptake to date and slightly up on last year’s 68.7%. Asked why not all staff were getting vaccinated, Davies theorised that it …

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