FLU vaccination uptake fell among frontline staff at an NHS trust, and feedback surveys suggest most of those who declined were either worried about side effects or didn’t believe the jab worked.

Shropshire Community Health Trust just met the 75 per cent target last winter, securing £71,000 of funding, but a report for their board admits they are “disappointed” uptake had fallen three per cent in 2017-18.

In her report for the trust board, senior occupational health advisor Susan Upton, said only six employees had a genuine medical reason for refusing the inoculation.

She said the occupational health team will aim to run a “more informative and better-targeted publicity programme” next winter.

Ms Upton wrote: “We set out to target our 1,166 frontline healthcare workers to achieve a CQUIN [Commissioning for Quality and Innovation] target of 75 per cent and a stretch target of 100 per cent.

“An achieved uptake of 76.7 per cent ensured we met the target, resulting in no loss of the allocated £71,433 associated with it.

“The occupational health team are disappointed that our final uptake figure was over 20 per cent away from our stretch target and over 3% less than our uptake last year.”

She added that the new requirement to survey those who opted out about their reasons for doing so showed that it was usually a “positive decision”, rather than being unaware of the vaccination campaign or unable to access it.

“However, it also highlights the need to establish a more informative and better-targeted publicity programme for our next campaign,” Ms Upton added.

Of the 281 frontline workers who refused the vaccination, 83 completed opt-out forms giving their reasons.

“I’m concerned about the possible side effects” accounted for 31 per cent, while 29 per cent said “I do not believe the evidence that being vaccinated is beneficial”.

No reason was given by 21 per cent, while eight per cent reported they didn’t like needles and four per cent said “I don’t think I will get flu”.

Six individuals, who made up the remaining seven per cent, had a known allergy to the vaccine.

Last winter’s campaign started in October 2018 and “highlighted how staff could access the vaccine, shared myth-busting facts and highlighted the importance of protecting patients, colleagues and families”, Ms Upton writes.

Her report was presented to the board of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, which is responsible for Bishops Castle, Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Whitchurch Community Hospitals, Oswestry Health Centre and other community-based health services in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.