Influenza vaccination uptake in an Australian hospital: time to make it mandatory for health care workers?

Vivian K Y Leung, Susan E Harper and Monica A Slavin
Med J Aust 2012; 197 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11199
Published online: 19 November 2012

To the Editor: Poor influenza vaccination uptake among Australian health care workers has recently come under scrutiny in the media.1 The Australian immunisation handbook recommends influenza vaccination for all health care workers to prevent influenza transmission to patients and other staff.2 Despite this recommendation, the proportion of health care workers vaccinated has remained low across Victoria.3 Nevertheless, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC) — a tertiary facility in Melbourne, Vic, responsible for the care of immunocompromised cancer patients — has recorded increasing vaccination uptake across four consecutive influenza seasons (Box). During our 2012 staff influenza vaccination program, overall vaccination uptake was 78% (1666/2138 employed staff); 76% and 88% among medical and nursing staff, respectively.

  • Infectious Diseases and Infection Control, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, VIC.



Acknowledgement: We thank the VICNISS Healthcare Associated Infection Surveillance System Coordinating Centre (fully funded by the Department of Health Victoria) for providing pooled influenza vaccination data.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Miller N. Hospital flu risk to patients. The Age (Melbourne) 2012; 15 Jul.
  • 2. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Australian immunisation handbook. 9th ed. 2008. (accessed Jul 2012).
  • 3. Bull AL, Bennett N, Pitcher HC, et al. Influenza vaccine coverage among health care workers in Victorian public hospitals. Med J Aust 2007; 186: 185-186. <MJA full text>
  • 4. Rakita RM, Hagar BA, Crome P, et al. Mandatory influenza vaccination of healthcare workers: a 5-year study. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2010; 31: 881-888.
  • 5. Talbot TR, Babcock H, Caplan AL, et al. Revised SHEA position paper: influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2010; 31: 987-995.
  • 6. Quan K, Tehrani DM, Dickey L, et al. Voluntary to mandatory: evolution of strategies toward influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2012; 33: 63-70.


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