Provide free influenza vaccines for student nurses

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Student nurses spend 60% of their degree shadowing qualified nurses and spend a high proportion of this time giving direct patient care. During the winter season, this makes us susceptible to either falling ill or passing on the influenza virus to our vulnerable patients. 

At present, student nurses are not eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge from NHS health boards as the health boards would not consider student nurses on placement as employees. Students with certain medical conditions are eligible to receive the vaccination from their GP under the same criteria as all members of the public, however for the majority of students, the only option is to pay at a pharmacy for the vaccine. Although the vaccine is not of high cost, the fact that students must pay out of their own pockets in order to protect themselves and their patients from influenza (which all other health professionals get for free through their employers) seems fundamentally wrong. Contact with Occupational Health at Forth Valley Royal Hospital confirmed that although student nurses are not eligible to receive the vaccination free of charge, foundation year doctors are eligible to receive the vaccine from their health board, as they are considered to be employed. 

This is an issue which needs to be addressed, as offering free vaccination to undergraduate nurses would certainly increase the uptake of vaccination in this group and would contribute to patient safety.

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