Editorial: Influenza vaccination in healthcare professionals

British Medical Journal
26 May 2012 (Vol 344, Issue 7858)

Influenza vaccination in healthcare professionals
BMJ 2012; 344 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e2217 (Published 28 March 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2217
Harish Nair, Alison Holmes, Igor Rudan, Josip Car

Should be mandatory

There is clear evidence that healthcare workers play an important role in transmitting infections to their patients.1 The World Health Organization and national immunisation guidelines in 60% of developed and emerging economies strongly recommend annual vaccination against seasonal influenza for all healthcare workers in acute and long term care facilities.2 However, unlike other prophylactic measures targeted at healthcare workers, such as hepatitis B vaccination, the uptake of flu vaccine has been generally poor. In the United States, two decades of consistent advocacy by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention achieved a self reported vaccine coverage of only 64% among healthcare workers by 2010-1.3 In the United Kingdom, despite recommendations by the Department of Health, uptake of seasonal flu vaccine was a dismal 35% among frontline healthcare workers in the same year.4

Flu contributes greatly to global mortality and morbidity and has important economic consequences. Each year, seasonal flu affects 5-10% of the world’s population, causing 3-5 million severe infections and resulting in 250 000-500 000 deaths. Young children (especially those under 1 year); pregnant …