We want to hear from branches working jointly with employers to support this year’s Winter flu and COVID-19 vaccine programme.
Unlike last year, these vaccinations are voluntary. UNISON supports vaccination in health and social care. The vaccines are safe, and we encourage all members who do not have a medical exemption to get their jab because, for some, flu and COVID-19 are unpleasant illnesses. However, for many, they can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.
Frontline healthcare professionals are more likely to be exposed to the viruses, which can then be passed on to those who are at greater risk of serious illness.
Vaccinations are the best protection against flu and COVID-19.
Immunity fades over time and these viruses change each year.
All frontline health and social care professionals, including clinical and non-clinical staff who have direct contact with patients, should be offered both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Employers must make reasonable efforts to ensure that eligible frontline staff are offered a vaccine.
Health and social care worker campaign materials are now available to help with messaging.
Links for branches in devolved nations are below.
The COVID-19 vaccine may be offered through the employer or staff can book by downloading the NHS App, online or by calling 119. There may also be local walk-in vaccinations available. Find your nearest COVID-19 vaccination walk-in site at www.nhs.uk/covid-walk-in.
Frontline health and social care workers will continue to be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments by self-declaring through the NHS COVID-19 National Booking Service.
Additionally, those working in care homes could be offered the opportunity to receive a flu or COVID-19 vaccine when roving teams visit care homes, however this may not always be possible.
The seasonal flu vaccine, as a first point of call, should be provided by employers. Social care workers who are in direct contact with people who receive care and support services, should also have the vaccine provided by their employer.
There are circumstances where frontline staff who do not have access to employer led schemes can access the flu vaccine through the NHS free of charge.
This includes staff that work at a CQC registered residential care or nursing home, a CQC registered domiciliary care provider, a voluntary managed hospice provider or if they provide social care via a direct Payment (personal budgets) or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants. This should be signposted by employers.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations can be offered in the same appointment wherever possible.
If this is not possible, the advice is to get each vaccine as soon as you can, rather than waiting to have them together.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations
Northern Ireland https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/get-covid-19-vaccination-northern-ireland
The article Winter flu and COVID-19 vaccine programme 2023/24 – tell us what’s happening. first appeared on the UNISON National site.