Here at Global OHS HQ, we have been reflecting on an increase in flu jabs uptake this year. Actually a 150% increase to be precise and that’s not all. In addition, there has also been a significant increase in people attending the jabs. Most years we see a Did Not Attend (DNA) rate of around 20-25%, this year, however, it’s been pretty negligible; about 2%.
So, what does this tell us? On a local level more people this year wanted the flu jab and people are now seeing it as a work perk. Does this shift represent a wider geographical perspective? It would be interesting to find out.
Each year, Public Health England launches the national flu immunisation programme which aims to provide direct protection to those who are at higher risk of flu-associated morbidity and mortality. Groups eligible for flu vaccination are based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and include older people, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying medical conditions. As such, an increase in uptake in the working well is unlikely to be captured as part of any national surveillance campaign so it will be difficult to determine if what we are seeing is respective of the wider UK population with regards to the working well.
So, what has changed then; a recent study looked at older people’s attitudes towards flu vaccination. The study found that attitudinal barriers were significant in influencing flu vaccination. They broke attitudinal barriers down into two main types:
• not everyone sees themselves as vulnerable to flu
• not everyone believes that the vaccine works
They found that patients knew that flu was a health concern and that being older meant you could be more vulnerable to disease, but this didn’t translate into seeing themselves as vulnerable. Framing vaccination as part of a healthy lifestyle might generate a more positive response from older patients: ‘…presenting immunisation as a positive and healthy lifestyle choice’
(page 2) 2 International longevity centre UK (2019) Under the skin: listening to the voices of older people on influenza immunisation. https://ilcuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ILC-Under-the-skin.pdf
So, I believe that this wider shift in vaccination is seen in a more positive light; its part of a variety of informed choices people are making to keep themselves well and protect those around them. Overall this is a really positive thing. With regards to the misconception that the flu jab does not work; it's unlikely we can change or influence the anti-vac stalwarts with the evidence base and science (that is not a live vaccine and CANNOT give you flu), but really, how many people have you ever heard of who contracted the tetanus virus after having the tetanus vaccination…….