UEA's £1.4m project to up number of care home staff having flu jab
- Credit: PA
Researchers in Norwich are launching a £1.4m project to increase the number of care home staff who have the flu jab.
The work, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will test different ways of encouraging staff to have the vaccine.
They hope the work will reduce the number of cases of flu in care homes and save lives.
The three-year FluCare project will take place in collaboration with the universities of Leicester and Liverpool and organisations including Public Health England, the National Care Forum, Care England, Boots UK and Day Lewis Pharmacy.
Dr Amrish Patel, from UEA’s School of Economics, said: “Every year flu, caught from staff and visitors, causes serious illness and death in care home residents.
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“While vaccines work in most people, there are always some for whom they do not work. That means that if we give vaccines to care home residents, some will still not be protected.
“The best way to protect residents is therefore to vaccinate care home staff as well. But while the World Health Organisation recommends that over three quarters of care home staff should be vaccinated, in the UK - less than half of staff take up the jab. And this puts residents at higher risk.”
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Prof David Wright, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said there were usually three factors which decided if staff were vaccinated - how easily they can access vaccines, how important their manager sees staff vaccination and their own personal attitudes and beliefs about vaccination.
The research team will investigate a range of approaches, such as community pharmacists vaccinating staff in the care home and offering incentives to managers.
They will work with care homes and pharmacies across East Anglia, London and the East Midlands, and test the approaches in 10 care homes during flu season.
The team will go on to work with 70 care homes with low vaccination levels to see how their approaches improve vaccine uptake and whether the health of residents improved.
Researchers will use the findings to develop a toolkit to tell people about new services and encourage them to use it.