Health care workers' influenza vaccination: motivations and mandatory mask policy

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Abstract

Background

Vaccination of health care workers (HCW) against seasonal influenza (SI) is recommended but vaccination rate rarely reach >30%. Vaccination coverage against 2009 pandemic influenza (PI) was 52% in our hospital, whilst a new policy requiring unvaccinated HCW to wear a mask during patient care duties was enforced.

Aims

To investigate the determinants of this higher vaccination acceptance for PI and to look for an association with the new mask-wearing policy.

Methods

A retrospective cohort study, involving HCW of three critical departments of a 1023-bed, tertiary-care university hospital in Switzerland. Self-reported 2009–10 SI and 2009 PI vaccination statuses, reasons and demographic data were collected through a literature-based questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, uni- and multivariate analyses were then performed.

Results

There were 472 respondents with a response rate of 54%. Self-reported vaccination acceptance was 64% for PI and 53% for SI. PI vaccination acceptance was associated with being vaccinated against SI (OR 9.5; 95% CI 5.5–16.4), being a physician (OR 7.7; 95% CI 3.1–19.1) and feeling uncomfortable wearing a mask (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.0–2.8). Main motives for refusing vaccination were: preference for wearing a surgical mask (80% for PI, not applicable for SI) and concerns about vaccine safety (64%, 50%) and efficacy (44%, 35%).

Conclusions

The new mask-wearing policy was a motivation for vaccination but also offered an alternative to non-compliant HCW. Concerns about vaccine safety and efficiency and self-interest of health care workers are still main determinants for influenza vaccination acceptance. Better incentives are needed to encourage vaccination amongst non-physician HCW.

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