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New research reinforces importance of clear messages about benefits of vaccines to encourage increased uptake in NHS staff.

Published: 27 October 2021

As the annual flu vaccine programme and Coronavirus booster jabs are rolled out, a new study, funded by Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, has shown that clear and informative messages about the benefits of vaccination could encourage increased uptake among NHS staff.  

Behavioural scientists from Sheffield Hallam University carried out the study on behalf of Public Health Wales to support improved take up of the annual influenza vaccine.  

Researchers from the University’s Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology (CeBSAP) carried out interviews with 36 employees at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB) to explore factors influencing flu and Covid-19 vaccine uptake. 

They found a number of factors positively influencing uptake including the importance of having the vaccine to protect themselves, others, and the NHS as well as receiving support from work to take time out of work to get the vaccine.   

The study also revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased their understanding of the need for the influenza vaccine.   

Researchers also carried out workshops with some employees to explore interventions to address the barriers to vaccination uptake. Participants’ suggestions included:  

  • Emphasising the value and benefit of the influenza vaccines (e.g., protecting yourself, protecting loved ones, protecting patients, protecting colleagues and protecting the NHS) 
  • Ensuring messages include images and messages that represent different staff groups receiving vaccines (e.g., clinical and non-clinical staff)  
  • Ensuring messages include information about how, where, and when they can receive their vaccines, as well as links to further information and support  
  • Ensuring messages reinforce that vaccines are safe and effective  
  • Ensuring messages use accessible language.  

The study participants also suggested that training peers to have supportive conversations to promote vaccination uptake could be particularly valuable.  

Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Development at Public Health Wales said: “It is vital that NHS employees feel confident about vaccine safety and the importance of having them when offered.” 

“This vital research has enabled us to identify barriers, so we can directly address these issues and encourage more employees to get their vaccinations, helping to protect themselves and others.”   

Dr Rachael Thorneloe, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, led the study.  

Dr Thorneloe said: “This project has enabled us to identify key barriers and facilitators to the uptake of influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations among a group of NHS employees. 

“By identifying and co-producing some key interventions with employees messaging will reflect their needs and priorities as well as help to maximise the vaccination uptake in both current and future vaccination programmes.” 

The research was funded by Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. An executive summary, and the report itself, can be read here:


For more information please see the Public Health Wales website for influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations