‘Vaccine fatigue’ sees flu jab rates drop at Nottinghamshire hospitals

King’s Mill Hospital, near Mansfield
King’s Mill Hospital, near Mansfield -Credit:LDRS

Fewer than three in five NHS workers at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust in Nottinghamshire got the flu vaccine this winter. ‘Vaccine fatigue’ has been blamed as one reason the rate is going down, both locally and nationally.

The trust runs King’s Mill Hospital, near Mansfield, Newark Hospital, and Mansfield Community Hospital. Flu can be a serious or life-threatening illness, and healthcare workers, people over 65, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions are urged to get the vaccine against it each autumn.

Just under 59 per cent of the trust’s eligible healthcare staff got the jab – down from 62 per cent last year. The overall NHS flu vaccination target is 80 per cent, but only 43 per cent of workers got it nationally.

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A meeting of the trust’s board on Thursday (May 2) was told research was being carrying out into the growing hesitancy. Robert Simcox, director of people, said: “One of the main reasons we’ve found is vaccine fatigue. People have had multiple vaccines before and felt unwell, whether it’s groggy, tired or sore arms.

“There’s also a challenge of accessibility. During the pandemic, vaccinations were very easy for people to get. We need to increase the opportunities for staff to have it any time of day in their place of work.”

All frontline healthcare and social workers are eligible for the flu vaccine through their employer. It is recommended people get it each year as the vaccine is updated depending on which strains are most prevalent.

The meeting was told that the past two flu seasons have been very mild, which may be leading to complacency. Claire Ward, chair of the board, said: “Healthcare workers should be more receptive to arguments about the importance of vaccination and the bigger public issues.

“We need to communicate the importance, and hopefully it doesn’t take a bad winter to increase the uptake.”

Barbara Brady, a non-executive director, said vaccination was important for the protection of patients. What about the patients who are already in here recovering get flu transmitted to them? It’s a double whammy.”

People who have received the vaccine can still get flu, but it is likely to be shorter and milder than if they had not had the jab.