Immunizing health care workers against influenza: A glimpse into the challenges with voluntary programs and considerations for mandatory polices

Source: Susan Quach, Jennifer A. Pereira, Jeffrey C. Kwong, Sherman Quan, Lois Crowe, Maryse Guay, Julie A. Bettinger, American Journal of Infection Control, Article in Press, August 23, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) is an important patient safety initiative. It prevents influenza infection among patients and reduces staff illness and absenteeism. Despite these benefits, HCW influenza immunization uptake is low. Therefore, strategies to achieve high immunization coverage in HCWs, barriers to uptake, and perceptions of mandatory influenza immunization policies were discussed in key informant interviews with influenza immunization program planners…. Participants used a variety of promotional and educational activities, and many vaccine delivery approaches, to support HCW immunization programs. Barriers to achieving high coverage in HCWs included misconceptions about the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccine, negative personal experiences associated with the vaccine, and antivaccine sentiments. Participants mentioned mandatory influenza immunizations as a solution to low coverage. However, they identified challenges with this approach such as obtaining support from stakeholders, enforcement, and limiting personal autonomy….
Participants believed immunization coverage in health care organizations will continue to be suboptimal using existing program strategies. Although participants discussed mandatory immunization as a way to improve uptake, potential obstacles will need to be addressed for this to be implemented successfully.