September is Sepsis Awareness Month and the start of Flu vaccination season


These two have an important relevance to each other as many people who catch flu die from sepsis. Sepsis is our own bodies over reaction to any infectious agent and is as common as heart attacks. If we can prevent infectious agents from being transmitted by vaccination programmes, outstanding infection prevention and control and passionate infection prevention leadership we really can save lives. No matter the setting or age group where you work this is relevant for you.

Only a few years ago a young 18 year old girl at university in Edinburgh became ill with flu. She called her mum and then went to bed. Tragically her flat mates found her dead in the morning. Sepsis was the cause of death, so suddenly and unexpected. Ensure you, your colleagues and your loved ones can recognise the signs of sepsis. Due to Covid19 we sadly also expect more cases of sepsis.

Covid19 has made the whole world realise the power of a tiny virus when we have no immunity to it. Despite everything, I still see staff touching or incorrectly using their facemasks. We must respect these organisms and constantly fight to protect everyone. Let‘s not become complacent, let’s not relax the good work that has been done, let’s not be caught off guard.

Due to Covid19 this year’s flu campaign is bigger than ever and free to more of the population than ever before. Priority will be given to the over 65s, those with chronic conditions, anyone on the shielded list and their close contacts, pregnant women and anyone with a BMI of 40 or more. Once these vaccinations are complete anyone over 50 can also have the flu vaccine.

Healthcare workers and carers in all settings will be offered the flu vaccination with nurses and midwives championing vaccinations. The target for this is 100% offer and 90% uptake. Are your staff ready and informed so they can play their part either through having the flu jab or by administering it? This work has already begun, only this week a learner told me they had already vaccinated 50% of their staff with 6 vaccinators.

My role and responsibilities in September and ongoing are to provide relevant courses both old and new but always updated. The relevant training the team and I deliver are Infection Prevention and Control Foundation, Infection Prevention Lead, Sepsis Awareness, Immunisation and Vaccination Foundation, Immunisation and Vaccination Annual Update and Anaphylaxis. If you want to know more please contact us.

A learner shared this poem with me on our annual vaccination update course only yesterday and I’d like to share this exert with you.

‘Roald Dahl on Olivia, writing in 1986 “MEASLES: A dangerous illness.

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.
‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.’

Roald Dahl’s Heartbreaking Letter About Losing his Daughter in 1962