In 2019 Healthwatch County Durham was approached by Durham County Council’s Public Health team to gather feedback on what people think about the NHS flu vaccination. The aim was to find out what discourages eligible people from getting their free NHS flu vaccination and find out what would encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Observations and Considerations
From the information provided in our survey and conversations with the public, we have made the following observations for Durham County Council’s Public Health team to consider:
Many of the people we talked to were unsure which groups were considered to be ‘at risk’. Could this information be highlighted to make the public and health and social care staff aware of who is entitled to a free NHS flu vaccine? Equally, is there more that could be done to identify people in at-risk groups earlier via health and social care workers?
There is a genuine concern amongst the public that they will get flu or suffer side effects if they have the vaccine. This was stated as a concern by those who take up the offer of a free flu vaccine as well as those who don’t. Could a County-wide awareness campaign be developed to address this concern whilst stressing the benefits of the vaccine?
The statement that might persuade respondents to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination focused on the serious nature of the disease, that it is much worse than a heavy cold and that an average of 8000 people die from flu-related complications in England each year. Could this be an important message in a County-wide campaign to increase the uptake of the vaccine? It should be noted however that some people have made a life-style choice not to be vaccinated, or have very strong views against vaccinations, and they are unlikely to be persuaded by any message.
(Please note only some of our observations are stated here, please download the full report below to see them all)