Doncaster Council has worked with local NHS organisations and care providers to try to ensure high rates of flu vaccination uptake. There has been a particular focus on care staff in recent years after they were incorporated into the winter flu vaccination campaign. Work has also been completed with other groups including council staff and pregnant women.
What was done?
For the last four years a Flu Delivery Group has been meeting regularly to ensure the public and health and care staff come forward for the jab.
The group starts to meet in the early summer to draw up plans, monthly meetings then taken place during autumn and winter. It is chaired by Doncaster Council Public Health Consultant Dr Victor Joseph, and includes members of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), local GP practices and hospital management.
Dr Joseph also attends the A&E Delivery Board meetings, which take place monthly during the winter, to monitor the impact flu is having at the local hospital.
He said: “Flu can be the cause of a lot of sickness absence at work and increased hospital attendances during the winter season. Our work on flu vaccination over the years provides a real insight into what is happening on the frontline, and helps us to constantly learn from what we are doing.”
Over the last two winters there has been a particular focus on the care sector. Awareness-raising training has been organised for both care home and domiciliary care staff during the summer. A template letter is provided for care home managers to give their staff entitling them to the jab from pharmacists.
Dr Joseph said: “One of the issues that was raised was that care staff would go to the pharmacists asking for the jab, but they would not always have the right ID.
“So, we thought we would make it easier for them by giving them letters they could take in demonstrating they were eligible.
“It is starting to make a difference this year – we think more are coming forward. Last year just a quarter of care staff were vaccinated so we are very keen to improve that. If we can get staff coming forward it not only protects them, but their families too and the people they are caring for.
“We get weekly or fortnightly reports from the care homes about progress – it allows us to respond to any trends that need addressing.”
What else is happening?
The proactive work also extends to other groups and a range of different initiatives have been implemented.
The council’s own workforce are now offered the flu vaccine on site, while the Flu Delivery Group has liaised with school nurses to ensure the smooth roll out of the flu vaccine in schools. Furthermore, help has been provided to set up flu clinics in maternity services for pregnant women.
Meanwhile, district nurses have also been tasked with delivering flu vaccinations direct to care home residents – last year 83 per cent of residents were vaccinated.
Dr Victor Joseph
Public Health Consultant