There are signs that many health staff will decide against being immunised because of doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness, fear of side-effects and a view that swine flu is not particularly dangerous.The Department of Health fears that the low take-up of the vaccine could have serious consequences when the expected second wave of the pandemic hits in the winter flu season.
Ian Dalton, the NHS’s national director of flu resilience, warned vaccinating front line staff was “absolutely critical” and would help save people’s lives.He wrote to local NHS chief executives in England in September saying: “We all know that uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine among NHS staff is traditionally low. It is an NHS board responsibility that we do not find ourselves in this position with the swine flu vaccine.”
However hospitals expect only a faction of staff to volunteer to receive the vaccine.
One urban hospital chief executive, speaking anonymously to the Guardian newspaper, said: “At the moment in my hospital, if nothing changes then it could be that 10%-20% of staff have the swine flu jab.Staff could have the virus and pass it on to patients, a proportion of whom will die, albeit a very small proportion.The other consequence is that if loads of staff go off with swine flu that will leave us short-staffed, which is dangerous to patients.That’s a bigger danger than transmission”...