CDHB staff slow to take up free flu vaccine

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Only about 20 per cent of Canterbury District Health Board staff have so far taken up free flu vaccines.

The figure suggests the CDHB is well behind the 80 per cent target that the Ministry of Health has for district health board health care workers.

It comes following last month's revelation the CDHB was among nine DHBs that do not know which of their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Chief people officer Mary Johnston said last week about 2000 staff had received their influenza vaccination at the health board’s free clinics.

This number did not include staff who may have chosen to receive the vaccine from their own GP or pharmacy.

The CDHB employs about 11,500 people.

The roll-out of the free flu vaccinations for staff was made available from July 8.

Johnston said she could not draw comparisons on the level of uptake compared to the general population at this early stage.

“We are in the very early stages of the roll-out. It is far too early in the roll-out to make judgement or comment on the uptake so far,” she said.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said about 62 per cent of the general population of over 65s on the National Immunisation Register had been vaccinated as of July 16.

There was no number for under 65s, as many of these vaccinations were not recorded in the register. However, more than 1.4 million doses of the 2.4 million available had been distributed nationwide, representing a higher demand than in 2019.

Peter Bramley.
Peter Bramley.
CDHB chief executive Peter Bramley has urged staff to take advantage of the free flu clinics.

“Flu is prevalent in Australia, along with Covid-19 unfortunately, but with borders still semi-permeable at the moment, the reality is, it’s quite likely to come to New Zealand at some stage, so please book your flu vaccination and get yourself protected,” Bramley told staff.

He also urged staff who had not already had both their Covid-19 vaccinations to book themselves in.

“It’s really important we get our health workforce protected,” he said.

As of August 31, all 20 district health boards will have to ensure all staff working in Covid-19 designated workstreams are fully vaccinated.

A district health boards’ spokesperson said national guidance distributed in late June made clear that any DHB worker in a designated Covid-19 workstream would need to provide proof of vaccination by this time.

The CDHB cared for two patients who were confirmed as having Covid-19 in January, prior to vaccines being available.