Have you had your flu vaccine yet?

By Paul Bennett , RPS CEO

I recently had my seasonal flu vaccination – have you had yours?

This is something I do every year. Not only to protect myself, but also my family, my colleagues and people I come into contact with who may be vulnerable. It’s a very sensible precaution because influenza can have a devastating impact if it takes hold. While we often think of flu as something little more than a bad cold, it has a legacy of tragedy behind it.

Heaven forbid that we encounter an epidemic on the scale of the influenza outbreak of the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918. I was reminded of just how cruel that outbreak was when watching a TV programme about the centenary of the end of the Great War and the soldiers who had managed, against all odds, to survive the trenches only to be struck down by flu in the weeks and months after ceasefire was declared and they were waiting to be evacuated back home.

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.

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