NHS staff reluctant to have swine flu jab
NHS workers in Lancashire are showing reluctance in taking up a vaccination to protect them against swine flu.
Frontline health staff are among the first to be offered the swine flu jab.
However, it has emerged many are refusing to take up the vaccine.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals, received an initial batch of 500 doses for their staff vaccination programmes.
So far, 200 hospital workers have taken up the jab.
Although it is being offered on a voluntary basis, health chiefs and union bosses are stepping up their campaign to convince more staff to protect themselves and others with the jab.
Debbie Fielding, associate director of infection prevention, was one of the first to have the jab and said: “It is important we do everything we can to stop patients catching the virus.
“Vaccinating frontline health professionals is the first line of defence for patients as it reduces the chances of staff transmitting the virus. It also protects frontline health professionals from unnecessary risk. While the vaccines being used are new, they are very similar to existing vaccines which have undergone clinical trials showing they are safe and effective.”
Health unions are also in favour of the vaccine and are trying to allay staff fears.
Bob Parkinson, UNITE staff side lead at North West Ambulance Service said: “I am surprised at how much resistance there has been to the vaccine.
“A lot of it is fear of the unknown and many workers are saying they are not convinced of its safety.
“However, the union believes it is as safe as any vaccine and any minimal risks are far outweighed by the dangers of becoming ill.
“We are trying to put the assurances out there to urge staff to get vaccinated, as we expect there to be a surge in swine flu cases during November and December.”
The vaccine is being offered to hospital workers in areas such as intensive care and A&E and more supplies are expected soon.
It is also available to high-risk patients such as pregnant women and those with low immune systems.