Is your service prepared for a flu?
We have worked with the local NHS and Public Health England to create some helpful resources to support you and your service through this year’s influenza season, likely to last until the end of March. This year, we want to prevent as many cases and outbreaks as possible by providers using all local and national resources.
Please utilise these materials by:
- Discussing and handing out in team meetings
- Displaying and making available in reception areas and staff rooms
- Emailing to staff and families/relatives
- Presenting at client and family/relative meetings
The Government have advised that all frontline health and social care staff who work in CQC registered settings are to be offered the seasonal flu vaccine. People might receive this at work, from their GP or asked to book with a registered private provider. More information will be shared on this soon.
Symptoms of flu
Learning disability & flu vaccination
Useful Flu Resources for you to utilise
|HCC easy read flu information for Learning Disabilities||Click here|
|HCPA Myth-busting Flu myth or flu fact?||Click here|
|NHS Flu vaccine easy read for people with learning disabilities||Click here|
|NHS Flu vaccine guidance||Click here|
|NHS- Learning Disability patients and flu vaccination||Click here|
|Public Health England – Winter Readiness (infection prevention) info for care homes in South East England||Click here|
|Public England – Flu campaign resources||Click here|
Who is eligible for the free flu vaccine?
Those eligible for the free flu vaccination on the NHS this year (2021 to 2022) are:
- All children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
- Those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 50 years and over
- Those in long-stay residential care homes
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- Frontline health and social care staff employed by:
- A registered residential care or nursing home
- Registered domiciliary care provider or a voluntary managed hospice provider
- Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.
Why should I get the flu vaccination?
By having the flu vaccination, you will help protect yourself and others from what can be a severe, and sometimes fatal, illness which could lead to hospital treatment. You will also be helping to protect the NHS from coming under pressure this winter.
When is the best time to get the vaccination?
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. But even if it’s later, it’s always worth getting vaccinated.
Where can I get my flu vaccination?
If you’re a frontline health and social care worker, your employer should offer you a flu vaccine. They may give the vaccine at your workplace.
You can also have an NHS flu vaccine at a GP surgery or a pharmacy, if you’re a health or social care worker employed by a:
- registered residential care or nursing home
- registered homecare organisation
You can also have the flu vaccine if you provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both.
Will the flu vaccine give me flu?
No. The flu vaccine that is given to adults contains inactivated or ‘dead’ flu virus so there is no way it can give you the flu. You may experience minor reactions at the injection site like a sore arm, redness or have a slight fever but these are common reactions to any kind of vaccination. Any cough or cold that appears after you get the flu vaccine was probably already in your system or caught at the same time as it usually takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to start working.
What is the process for reporting new flu outbreaks?
What is the process for identifying people with Flu?
If you identify two or more people with influenza like illness (ILI) or you might have two or more residents with ‘chest infections’ then call PHE HPT to risk assess the situation. They will then let you know if they think that additional respiratory swabs are indicated and they will arrange this. The provider that will come to swab up to 5 of the most recent cases is called Commisceo. They will most likely call ahead of the visit and ask for a list of the residents in an affected unit/service. This is not a new provision but the previous document is being updated and will be on COVID-19 | HCPA in due course. Currently the testing will be only for the residents.
We were advised to isolate residents for 5 days with flu – are we expecting staff to follow this advice?
Management of flu/respiratory virus in health and social care is not new however it is complicated because of COVID-19 so if there is any suspicion that you also have COVID-19 circulating in the affected service the isolation will be as per COVID-19. For flu it has always been important that staff do not work if they are unwell. The guidance is that staff members who become unwell with acute respiratory symptoms should leave work and get tested for COVID-19 as a minimum. If COVID-19 is confirmed, they should remain off work for 10 days after their onset of symptoms (as per COVID-19 guidance) If staff members test negative for SARS-CoV-2 and have symptoms of or are confirmed as having influenza, they should remain off work for a minimum of 5 days after the onset of symptoms and until feeling well. So it is important for your site due to the complexity to have a robust record of staff sickness so that it can be shared with PHE HPT who will then provide the advice that is to be followed. Yes agree in the case of diarrhoea and vomiting the exclusion of staff until they have been symptom free for 48h is indicated. Again if you have two cases of d and v linked in time and place then this should be discussed with PHE HPT.
Are we to report all staff cases of flu? Will staff be tested? What is the process to get tested?
Staff may present at GP and be diagnosed so they should inform you as employers and you should keep a record as it may evolve that you have reports of two staff who work together with respiratory symptoms so in this instance you should notify PHE HPT to risk assess.
Flu vouchers for non-CQC providers
As part of their support to frontline health and social care services this winter, Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health Service is able to offer to support you to offer your staff who are not eligible for the free NHS flu vaccination programme a free private flu jab from a community pharmacist.
Details of who is eligible for the NHS programme is available here.
For those not eligible for the free NHS programme HCC can offer two routes for your staff to obtain a free flu vaccination:
1. They can provide you with an authorisation letter with a unique organisational code.
The authorisation letter will be accepted in a designated list of community pharmacies in Hertfordshire which we are adding to every week.
The list of designated community pharmacies can be accessed here.
By using this service, the community pharmacist will charge the cost of the flu vaccination directly to the County Council and there will therefore be no cost to your member of staff.
2. An agreement that will allow you to charge back to us the cost of a flu vaccination for your staff.
The member of staff will need to pay for a private flu vaccination at any community pharmacy offering a flu vaccination service, and then claim this back through expenses from you through your expenses procedure. On receipt of a monthly invoice HCC will reimburse you the cost of the flu vaccination.
If you are interested in one or both of these routes to supporting flu vaccination please contact email@example.com to discuss and receive further details about the offer.
REMEMBER – following regular hand hygiene measures can help stop the spread of virus. Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.
» Visit our IPC page here for more information on infection prevention and control.
Learning Disability patients and flu vaccination
Please make sure ALL people you support who have a Learning Disability receive their free Flu vaccine this year. This is critical because, this year, Public Health England has anticipated a particularly virulent strain of the seasonal flu virus and nearly half of deaths in people with Learning Disabilities are respiratory related.
The flu injection is NOT a live vaccine; this means that the person cannot get the Flu from having the vaccine.
If someone will not tolerate an injection, then you can ask for them to have the nasal spray instead. This is only licensed for children and is a live vaccine, but GP’s can prescribe it as an alternative to the injection for any adults with a Learning Disability who will not have the injection. [this is deemed by the NHS to be a reasonable adjustment]
As a care practitioner, you cannot refuse the vaccine on someone else’s behalf unless you hold Lasting Power of Attorney for their health decisions.
If someone is refusing both options, please ensure you can evidence that they had full capacity to make an informed decision to refuse and record how they weighed up the risks and benefits. Remember that it is deemed to be in the best interest of people with a Learning Disability to receive the vaccine, so make sure you have taken every step to achieve this health recommendation.