Do flu jabs keep NHS staff healthy in winter?
University of Southampton researchers are setting out to discover whether a wider programme of immunisation against 'flu would cut winter sickness levels among health care workers in hospitals. At present 'flu jabs are available for staff on a voluntary basis but take-up is poor.
Dr Julia Smedley is leading the £111,000 Department of Health study, which involves six acute hospitals across the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The two year project aims to find out how many staff cite flu as a cause of absence, why take-up of the vaccine is patchy, and how cost-effective it is. It will also consider whether a more widespread immunisation programme would relieve winter pressures in hospitals and, if so, how staff could be persuaded to agree to the jab.
Dr Smedley said: "At the moment, we know the vaccine prevents flu but can only guess whether wider immunisation among nurses and other workers would relieve pressure on the wards at peak times. We have a number of questions that need answers."
Notes for editors
The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.