GPs are being urged to be vaccinated against seasonal flu after new figures showed that much less than half were immunised last year.
Department of Health (DH) figures published today suggest that just 38.2% of GPs were inoculated against the virus, a lower figure than GP practice nurses.
There are concerns that the low take-up spreads the virus and leads to absenteeism at important times for the NHS.
An RCGP spokesperson said: ‘We always encourage GPs to have the seasonal flu jab, so as to protect the service at critical times and to protect vulnerable patients. We fully support the CMOs call for healthcare workers to be vaccinated.’
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said: ‘NHS staff face increased pressure over winter, especially if there is a severe flu season. They keep the NHS running and it is vital that they protect themselves, their patients and families from the potentially serious effects of flu that they are exposed to over the winter period.
‘It is never too early to start thinking about flu. So as NHS staff return from their holidays, I urge them to plan ahead and get vaccinated.’
Flu vaccination take-up 2010
• 30 per cent of nurses, including hospital nurses and midwives;
• 42.5 per cent of GP practice nurses;
• 38.2 per cent of GPs; and
• 37 per cent of doctors excluding GPs