Willingness of European healthcare workers to undergo vaccination against seasonal influenza: current situation and suggestions for improvement

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Uptake of vaccination against seasonal influenza in healthcare workers (HCWs) is, in general, low (vaccine coverage of 6–54%), as is awareness of its importance, and has been decreasing in most European Union (EU) countries in recent years. By virtue of their working environment, HCWs are at an increased risk of influenza infection and of subsequently transmitting the virus to vulnerable patients, in whom disease burden is significant. It could be argued that a similar or higher target vaccination rate to that recommended for older age groups and people with chronic medical conditions (75%) should be applied to HCWs, and the European Council recommends Member States to improve vaccination coverage in this population. In this context, better education of HCWs is needed to increase awareness and highlight the importance of HCW vaccination for the benefit of public health, particularly for their patients, who may be at risk of serious complications that could lead to disability or death. Secondary to these professional responsibilities, personal benefits (as well as benefits to close family and friends) should also be emphasised. Misconceptions that create barriers to vaccination need to be discussed openly and objections placed in the context of public health.

Keywords: influenza, healthcare worker, vaccination, Europe, awareness, disease burden

Abbreviations: EU, European Union; HCWs, healthcare workers

Kassianos G. Willingness of European healthcare workers to undergo vaccination against seasonal influenza: current situation and suggestions for improvement. Drugs in Context 2015; 4: 212268. doi: 10.7573/dic.212268

Copyright © 2015 Kassianos G. Distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 3.0 which allows anyone to copy, distribute, and transmit the article provided it is properly attributed in the manner specified below. No other uses without permission.

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Copyright © 2015 Kassianos G. http://dx.doi.org/10.7573/dic.212268. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons Attributions License Deed CC BY NC ND 3.0.

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George Kassianos, FRCGP, FBHS, FESC, FBGTHA, FAcadMed, FFTM RCPS Glasg, President, British Global and Travel Health Association and Clinical Immunisation Lead, Royal College of General Practitioners, 61 Plough Lane, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 1RQ, UK. gckassianos@btinternet.com

Submitted, externally peer reviewed

Submitted: 25 November 2014
Accepted for publication, subject to peer review: 25 November 2014
Revised manuscript submitted: 18 December 2014
Accepted for publication: 19 December 2014
Publication date: 21 January 2015

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