Editors comment: influenza debate

The call from Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England, for a debate on whether the flu jab should be mandatory has certainly ignited opinion among members, syas Frontline managing editor Lynn Eaton.

Our story on page 10 gives a taste of the comments on social media after our last story (www.csp.org.uk/node/1131477).
For the record, the CSP has never called for a mandatory jab and is not doing so now. It does, though, encourage physios to have the jab and supports NHS Employers’ Flu Fighter programme.
Some people argue that a mandatory jab is a violation of an individual human being’s rights. 
But surely any vaccination programme is about the rights of the wider population, not the individual? 
Government advice, known as the Green Book, states that ‘healthcare workers have a duty of care towards their patients which includes taking reasonable precautions to protect them from communicable diseases’.
Tetanus, diphtheria, polio, Hepatitis B and MMR vaccines are also on the recommended list. NHS Employers states that any immunisation requirement on employees ‘must be proportionate to the risks associated with any given role’.
When you hear of side effects from a vaccine it’s human nature to be cautious. Although the risk of having a serious reaction to the flu vaccine is less than one in a million, we still worry about being that one person. 
It’s as natural as worrying about taking a long haul flight rather than driving up the M1. Yet we all know a car accident is far more likely to happen than a disaster on the flight!
At CSP we’re offered the jab. I’ve had it for years, and been fine. Nor have I had the flu … yet!
  • Lynn Eaton managing editor Frontline and head of CSP member communications eatonl@csp.org.uk
Lynn Eaton managing editor Frontline and head of CSP member communications

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