Zaher Atamna MD, Bibiana Chazan MD, Orna Nitzan MD, Raul Colodner PhD, Hila Kfir MD, Merav Strauss PhD, Naama Schwartz PhD and Arie Markel MD
Background: Recent studies show that vaccination of health care workers (HCW) might reduce influenza transmission and mortality among hospitalized patients. No studies have compared the incidence of laboratory-proven influenza in vaccinated versus unvaccinated hospital HCW.
Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of influenza vaccination among hospital HCW and to examine the attitudes of this population towards influenza vaccination.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study between 1 January and 30 April 2014 of 1641 HCW at our medical center; 733 were vaccinated and 908 not vaccinated. A random sample of 199 subjects was obtained: 97 vaccinated and 102 non-vaccinated. Participating individuals were contacted on a weekly basis during the flu season and were asked to report any respiratory or flu symptoms and, if positive, to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for influenza.
Results: In the general HCW population, vaccination was more frequent among physicians 298/498 (58%) than among nurses (324/862 (38%) and among males than females. Flu symptoms were reported by 20 of 199 participants, 13 in the non-vaccinated group (12.7%) and 7 in the vaccinated group (7.2%). A positive PCR test for influenza A virus was present in 4 of 20 people tested (20%). All positive cases were from the non-vaccinated group (P = 0.0953).
Conclusions: Non-vaccinated HCW showed a higher, although not statistically significant, tendency for contracting laboratory-proven influenza than the vaccinated population. The main reasons for vaccination and non-vaccination were personal beliefs and habits. Education efforts are needed to improve compliance. Larger studies could further clarify this issue.