'Doctors and nurses could be made to wear labels warning patients if they haven't had the flu vaccine, England's Chief Medical Officer has suggested.
Dame Sally Davies, speaking to a Parliamentary committee today, said health workers 'owe it' to patients to get vaccinated every winter.
She said it would be difficult to force staff to have the jabs but added that, in future, it could be written into the job contracts of people working in NHS hospitals.
In the same meeting Dame Sally, who is the Government's chief adviser on health and medical policy, said she would ban e-cigarettes from public places.
Taking aim at vaping, the safety of which she was sceptical about, the CMO said she 'hates it' when people waft vapour in her face and said e-cigarettes set a bad example to children.
The flu vaccine is offered for free to all children, elderly people, pregnant women and those with long-term medical conditions – as well as NHS employees.
But uptake among frontline healthcare workers is contentious. In last year's flu season 70.3 per cent of NHS staff had the jab, according to Public Health England.
Although this is double the figure in 2010 (34.7 per cent), there may still be tens of thousands of unvaccinated health workers.
Dame Sally said: 'I feel very strongly that we have a duty of care. I go and get vaccinated because I go out to the front line.'
When asked whether staff should have a choice about having the flu vaccine or not, she said: 'The patients don't have a choice. They're in the hospital, we're looking after them. We owe it to them.'
Dame Sally acknowledged vaccination levels were rising among NHS staff but were variable between hospitals.'
Read more: NHS staff who don't get the flu vaccine 'could wear a LABEL' because patients have the right to know and ask why, says England's Chief Medical Officer
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