Simon Harris has 'open mind' on legislation to make vaccinations compulsory for health staff

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The Health Minister Simon Harris has admitted that he is open to the possibility of making vaccines compulsory among health staff.

Simon Harris said it was important staff at hospitals and care centres were protected against the flu this winter.

According to the HSE, health service staff are 10 times more likely to get the flu than other groups.

Uptake in the flu vaccine among hospital workers rose from 34% in the 2016/2017 winter season to over 52% last year.

Minister Simon Harris welcomed the change, but admitted there was more work required. He said: "My initial point is - win the argument; persuade people of the benefits of vaccination; work with the incredible champions that we have in the health service who are promoting vaccination.

"But, we need to keep an open mind on legislative changes that may be required."

Incentives such as raffles and awards are offered to health care staff who get the flu vaccine.

Clinical Nurse Manager in Louth, Martin Smith, said there is a friendly rivalry among hospital groups to increase staff uptake. He said:"The (uptake) figures have increased nationally to about 50% (thanks to) the friendly rivalry that we have."

The HSE has also called on other at-risk groups such as over 65s, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions to get vaccinated against the flu this winter.

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