Last year saw high numbers of flu outbreaks in care homes, and Somerset County Council is urging all health and social care staff to receive their flu vaccination to protect the most vulnerable people in our community.
The County Council is asking care homes to
- Encourage ALL staff to take up the free flu vaccine – to protect patients and staff
- Make sure that all eligible residents are encouraged to have the free flu vaccine
- Remind visitors to stay away if they have flu-like-symptoms and when visiting to practice good hand hygiene to avoid the spread of infection.
Flu is very different from a normal cold and confines the fittest of people to bed. We know that for older people or those with long-term health conditions, the effects of flu can be much more serious, and in some cases even fatal.
Vaccination helps to reduce spread to the wider public and demand on the wider health system at a time when services are already under pressure.
As well as encouraging the flu vaccine, Somerset County Council is also sharing materials from Public Health England with care homes across the South West to help equip staff with tools and guidance on what to do if a resident falls ill with flu to prevent further illness within the home.
Trudi Grant, Somerset’s Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, said: “We are committed to making sure our community continues to be healthy, and we are working closely with our health partners to ensure that care home staff and residents stay well this winter. In the case of an outbreak, we have strict protocols to make sure the virus is managed and affects as few people as possible.
“Our residents are vulnerable and we know if they catch flu, the consequences could be much more severe than in a healthy adult. This is really distressing for the resident and their family, so we are encouraging all residents and staff to protect themselves and others by taking up the offer of a free flu vaccine.”