Flu jabs – a vexed question
As the days grow shorter and temperatures fall, the annual anxiety about ‘flu and whether or not to be vaccinated against it returns to plague us.
For care home operators this is a vexed question. Without doubt, flu carries-off elderly people every year, and the contagious nature of influenza makes it a big headache for care homes and hospitals.
But there is very real doubt about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, with some scientists putting its effectiveness as no more than 50%. No one claims it to be 100% effective, and it is demonstrably not the case; many of us will know of someone who has had the jab, only to subsequently develop flu.
And there is some doubt about the safety of the vaccine, and while most health authorities do their best to assuage people’s fears, one keeps hearing the stories; several years’ ago, at a gathering of care home operators, a sector financier went so far as to describe the flu jab as ‘euthanasia by the back door,’ pointing to an increase in mortality of residents in the weeks following a flu jab. I noted that many of the providers nodded their heads in grave agreement. I am unaware of any studies which have examined this possibility and I think it should be properly looked into.
Then there is the question of whether or not staff should be encouraged to have the jab (it is currently not administered free to social care workers) and if so, who should pay for it? And should there be any sort of expectation placed upon staff? If I were a young female care worker, and if I was pregnant, or just thought I may be pregnant, there is no way I would take the risk, however small, of potential harm to my unborn child.
And what about care home residents who lack capacity? I would not feel comfortable making a ‘best interests’ decision on their behalf on the question of whether or not they should have a flu jab.
As I say, a vexed question.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.