by Paul Bennett, RPS Chief Executive
I’ve had my seasonal flu vaccination – have you had yours?
It’s become part of my routine, and I make sure I get a flu jab every year. I get it to make sure I stay well, along with the people I come into contact with who may be vulnerable, my family and colleagues.
It’s a very sensible precaution because influenza is easy to pass on, even if you don’t show symptoms. It can have a devastating impact if it takes hold. Every healthcare professional working with patients should get vaccinated – it’s not too late.
We often think of flu as something little more than a bad cold. It’s so much worse than that, In 2018/19, there were an estimated 1,692 deaths associated with flu.
Flu has a legacy of tragedy behind it. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed more than both WW1 and WW2 combined.
We experienced something, thankfully on a less devastating scale, in more recent times. Back in the last decade, the UK suffered as part of the outbreak of Pandemic H1N1/09 (or Swine flu as it became known).
At its peak there were estimated to be 110,000 active cases in a single week in the UK. This caused much disruption to the lives of many of us. I remember spending days planning for massive workforce disruption as part of the leadership team of my organisation at the time. Our challenge was to support ill colleagues while continuing to serve the patients who depended upon us. Maybe that’s why I take these things seriously.
The RPS supports the call for all healthcare professionals to be vaccinated. It’s just common sense and yet not enough do. And every year, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Pharmaceutical Officers call on healthcare workers to be vaccinated. As the professional membership body for pharmacists, we must lead by example, and that’s why I encourage all our employees and members to do the same thing. Protect yourselves, your family and the rest of the population.