Responding to NHS England, Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS Improvement’s announcement that employers of social care workers will no longer need to pay to have their employees vaccinated against the flu, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) has praised the long-called for decision.

Whilst NHS staff were already offered the vaccination for free to protect patients and the public, the Government recommended that social care workers were immunised but asked employers of social care workers to pay for the vaccine. The ILC-UK has long highlighted the need to fund the vaccine for social care workers, to protect the extremely vulnerable people under their care.

The flu epidemic in care homes in Wigan last winter, which lead to thirty cases of flu, eight deaths, and Wigan Infirmary and the North West Ambulance Service facing additional pressures, is a case study of the toll that low uptake of flu vaccination among care home staff can have on residents and the NHS.

However, the ILC-UK is also urging the Government to ensure that domiciliary care workers are also reimbursed for the immunisation, so that they can protect the people they care for from influenza this winter.

David Sinclair, Director of the International Longevity Centre – UK said:

‘Influenza is a serious illness which does kill.

For years the ILC-UK highlighted that it made little sense to offer NHS staff the vaccination for free, whilst asking employers of social care workers to pay for the jab, as their staff also care for the most vulnerable people in our society.

Protecting older people through offering the flu vaccine to social care workers free of charge is a common sense approach that will save lives this winter. However, we are urging the Government to go further and ensure that domiciliary care workers are reimbursed when they receive the vaccine on the high street so that they too can protect the people under their care’.