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World Immunisation Week

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent many infectious diseases.

A woman receiving a vaccination against disease

About World Immunisation Week

World Immunisation Week (24th-30th April) is an annual global campaign organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which highlights the indispensable role vaccines have in safeguarding human health and wellbeing worldwide. The World Health Organisation aims to ensure vaccines are high on the priority list for governments in all countries and it promotes research and innovation which advances access to the vaccines. The main theme this year is the 50th anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), shining a spotlight on the commitment of the global community to strengthen immunisation efforts in order to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases.

How Vaccines work and Why are they so important?

Vaccines protect against many different diseases, such as hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria or pneumonia. They reduce risks of getting a disease by working with the body’s natural defences to build protection. Vaccines train the immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put a person at risk of its complications. It's much safer for the immune system to build protection through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once the immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often give a life long protection.

The primary aim of vaccination is to protect the individual who receives the vaccine, however vaccinated individuals are also less likely to be a source of infection to others. This reduces the risk of unvaccinated individuals being exposed to infection. If enough people are vaccinated, it's harder for the disease to spread to those people who cannot have vaccines, for example those who have a weakened immune system. This concept is called "herd immunity".

"Immunisation is a key component of primary health care and an indisputable human right. It’s also one of the best health investments money can buy. Vaccines are also critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks. They underpin global health security and will be a vital tool in the battle against antimicrobial resistance."

Vaccinations can protect from infectious diseases

Employee Immunisations in the workplace

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 require employers to assess the risks from exposure to hazardous substances, including biological agents, and to bring into effect the measures necessary to protect employees from those risks as far as is reasonably practicable. Under COSHH requirements, if a risk assessment shows that there is a risk of exposure to biological agents, and effective vaccines exist, then provision should be made to establish whether an employee is already immunised, and immunisation should be offered to those who haven't had the vaccine. Employers need to be able to demonstrate that an effective occupational immunisation programme is in place, and they have an obligation to arrange and pay for this service. Along with control measures put in place, immunisations need to be checked and reviewed and boosters provided where deemed necessary.

Potential exposure to biological agents, and therefore the type of immunisation required, may vary from workplace to workplace. Occupations that are at a higher risk from blood borne viruses include:

  • a range of healthcare staff such as nurses, physicians and emergency service staff

  • biomedical laboratory staff

  • care home staff

  • prison staff

  • police, fire, and rescue services staff

  • waste disposal workers

  • tattooing and body piercing workers

The HSE provides guidance on how to comply with the law, assess and reduce the risks of workplace exposure to blood-borne viruses, and how to manage incidences of exposure.

A man working in the lab handling blood sample being at risk of Hepatitis B

Tailored immunisation programmes can bring many benefits to the business:

  • Compliance with current legislation and guidance

  • Enhanced safety measures

  • Reduced risk and cost of sickness absence

  • Healthier workforce

  • Improved employee engagement

If your employees have a significant occupational risk of acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease, we can help you implement a comprehensive employee vaccination programme.

Hepatitis B Vaccinations

Hepatitis B is a type of hepatitis, a viral infection which can cause damage to the liver. This increases the chance of serious liver disease (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. While most people do not experience any symptoms when newly infected, those with acute illness have symptoms that last several weeks, e.g. yellowing of the skin and eyes, nausea, dark urine, pain in the abdomen, and fatigue. Hepatitis B cannot be cured, however there are treatments that can help control the virus and stop or slow down any liver damage.

Immunisation against Hepatitis B is strongly advised for all workers who may be exposed to blood, body fluids or tissues as part of their work activity. We offer a vaccination service to help businesses lower the risk of infection and protect their employees against exposure to Hepatitis B. The Hepatitis B vaccination programme consists of three vaccines given during separate appointments at recommended intervals. The employees are informed about the vaccine, risks, benefits, side effects and contra indication to participation. After the third vaccine, an immunity blood test is conducted and in the event of a poor titre response, a singe booster may be required, or a second course of vaccination implemented, dependent on advice from our clinical team.

Other Vaccinations

To ensure your employees remain safe and protected when there is a risk of exposure to biological agents in the workplace, we can also provide vaccinations for:

  • Hepatitis A

  • MMR

  • Varicella

  • Cholera

  • Tetanus

  • Diphtheria

  • Polio

Lab worker exposed to Hepatitis B

Vaccination can protect the employee who is at risk of acquiring the disease, and also reduce the risk of disease transmission to people who the worker is in contact with. However, it is important to emphasise that although immunisation provides additional protection, it should never be regarded as a substitute for safe working practices. Employers should put control measures in place and staff should adopt standard precautions if there is a risk of occupational exposure to biological agents. Some of the preventive measures can include:

  • appropriately handling and disposing of sharps

  • wearing gloves when handling body fluids

  • using goggles or face shields when splashes are likely

  • applying good, basic hygiene practices, including hand-washing, before and after glove use

  • avoiding hand-to-mouth/eye contact

  • disposing of all contaminated waste in line with the relevant guidance

For further information on safe working practises, please visit the HSE website.

You can also consider introducing an annual flu vaccination programme to protect your staff against flu and its complications:

Flu Vaccinations

Flu is a highly infectious illness caused by influenza viruses. It can be passed on by breathing in droplets of air from infected people. The main signs of the illness include fever, chills, headache, a dry cough, a sore throat, as well as aches and pains in the muscles. Flu can affect anyone but if someone has a long-term health condition the effects of flu can make it worse. Flu vaccination is safe and effective. It can help prevent catching the flu or reduce the impact it has on people, allowing quicker recovery.

Our seasonal flu vaccination programme can help you effectively mitigate the spread of flu among your workforce and minimise possible disruption to businesses due to influenza-related work absenteeism. We offer two convenient and cost-effective ways to vaccinate staff:

  • Flu vaccination clinics

Our qualified clinician will attend your workplace to run a flu vaccination clinic. They will bring all of the necessary equipment and administer the vaccinations with minimum disruption. This keeps things simple, avoids inconvenience, and saves staff time.

  • Flu vouchers

E-vouchers are sent to your employees by email and can be redeemed on the high-street

at over 2000 stores in the UK. It's an ideal solution for field-based workers and staff who cannot attend on the day of the onsite vaccination clinic.

A man with flu is coughing at work

If your staff is exposed to biological agents in the workplace or you would like to safeguard them against flu, get in touch with us today to discuss your requirements for an employee vaccination programme.



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