Giving care home staff flu jabs can cut the number of illnesses and deaths among residents, a study has shown.
Researchers from University College London found the practice makes a significant difference when flu rates are high.
Contact with staff is the main way flu is introduced into care homes, the study said.
Many countries offer flu jabs to healthcare workers every year, but in the UK, most care homes do not vaccinate their staff.
The research looked at 44 UK care homes during the winters of 2003-04 and 2004-05. Vaccination was promoted and offered to full-time staff in half of the homes, but not the rest.
Deaths were reduced by five per 100 residents and illness by nine cases per 100 compared with homes where staff were not vaccinated, the researchers found.
Dr Andrew Hayward, who led the study, said: “This study shows that care home employees should be offered the vaccine.
“Preventing flu in staff can substantially reduce exposure of residents to flu.”
A Department of Health spokesman said it hoped the study would encourage care homes to offer the vaccine to staff.