The uptake of flu vaccines by HCW’s (Health Care Workers) in the US, Canada, and the UK has always been just shy of dismal, with generally only about 40% getting the seasonal jab each year.
The excuses are pretty much the same ones that the rest of society uses . . . the cost, the inconvenience, concerns over side effects (usually minor), and a belief that their immune systems are robust enough to fight off most flu viruses.
In the past few years a small number of hospitals have moved toward making the seasonal flu shot a mandatory condition of employment, which is a move that was sponsored by APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology) last fall.
APIC released a statement on October 9th, recommending that "influenza vaccine be required annually for all healthcare personnel with direct patient care."
A few blogs I’ve written on this controversy include:
Today we get a poll out of the UK by the Nursing Times, where a third of nurses that responded said they would not take the pandemic vaccine when it arrives this fall, with many citing concerns over the vaccine’s safety.
17 August, 2009 | By Steve Ford, Graham Clews
A third of frontline nurses say they will not get immunised against swine flu when the vaccine becomes available later this year, a snapshot survey by Nursing Times reveals.
Top among the reasons for rejecting the vaccine are concerns about its safety, and a perception of the infection as ‘mild’, suggests the online survey of nearly 1,500 Nursing Times readers, of whom 91% describe themselves as frontline nurses.
The warning of frontline doubts about swine flu vaccination came as the Department of Health revealed its timetable for initial vaccination last week.
Overall 30% of survey respondents answered ‘no’ when asked if they would get immunised when the vaccine became available, compared with 37% who replied ‘yes’. A further 33% remained undecided and answered ‘maybe’.
Of those who said they would not get vaccinated, 60% said concern about the safety of the vaccine was the main reason. A further 31% of respondents said they did not consider the risks to their health from swine flu to be great enough, while 9% thought they would not be able to take time out of work to get immunised.
‘I would not be willing to put myself at risk of, as yet, unknown long-term effects to facilitate a short-term solution,’ said one respondent.
The poll, thus far, only has 76 responses.
The number `YES’ responses is a bit higher than the Nursing Times poll, with currently 46% answering in the affirmative. The number of `No’ responses, at 36% is very close to the Nursing Times poll.
The allnurses thread has about 50 comments, which should make for interesting reading by anyone interested in finding ways to reduce this resistance by HCWs of taking the pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines this fall.
Additionally, this thread continues to grow, and this poll remains open.
The allnurses pandemic flu forum is one of the best places on the Internet to take the pulse of the HCW community when it comes to pandemic issues.
There are more than 300 threads, and thousands of responses in this pandemic forum – which makes this a `must read’ for me every day.
Hospital administrators, infection control personnel, and public health officials would do well to stop by every few days to monitor this live, frank, and often robust discussion of the issues.