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Why one in three Suffolk ambulance staff turned down a flu jab

PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:46 04 February 2020

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance. Picture: ARCHANT

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

One in three ambulance staff in Suffolk and north Essex chose not to have a flu vaccination because they were afraid, didn't think they needed it or because they don't think it works.

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust patient transport service vehicles. Picture: ARCHANTEast of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust patient transport service vehicles. Picture: ARCHANT

One in three ambulance staff in Suffolk and north Essex chose not to have a flu vaccination because they were afraid, didn't think they needed it or because they don't think it works.

The number of workers who turned down the jab in each region has been released by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) - and 270 people said 'no' to it in Suffolk and north Essex.

While 75% of employees in mid and south Essex, 73% in Norfolk and 74% of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough said they would have the vaccine, just 65% said they would be happy to receive it in Suffolk and north Essex.

Reasons for rejecting the jab included: "Young, healthy and feels that does not require vaccination to protect them", "has not had the vaccination in the past so does not require it now" and "declined vaccination due to not been unwell with the flu previously, therefore does not require the vaccination".

Some said they were afraid of having the flu jab due to its effect on the immune system - while others felt it wasn't necessary "as (the) body will protect itself and has a good immune system".

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Dave Cunningham, author of the EEAST report, praised the overall statistics for the region - but pointed out that while the service has achieved the highest level of vaccinations among ambulance trusts, the reasons for declining take-up are being acknowledged.

He said: "The feedback provided from staff regarding the rationale for them not receiving the vaccination highlights a range of misinformation regarding the risks to oneself in receiving the vaccination and the risks to others in not receiving the vaccination.

"A more explicit campaign to inform staff of the facts and risks to others, associated with not having the vaccination, will be planned to be undertaken in 2020 - effectively bringing the preparation for undertaking the vaccination programme ahead even earlier than undertaken this year."

Additionally, some staff claimed they had turned the jab down due to previous allergic reactions - or having already had the vaccine administered already this year.

The overall number of staff vaccinated by Monday, January 20 - 72% - is an increase on last year, an EEAST spokesman added.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has completed its flu vaccine campaign and had 80% of its frontline staff taking up the jab.

East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust is yet to complete theirs.

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