BALTIMORE — Researchers found that health care workers, or HCWs, can be convinced to get vaccinated against influenza without making it mandatory.
“We saw in a previous study that only 40% of our health care workers are vaccinated, so we wanted to increase vaccination in order to prevent health care workers from being a vector for transmission to patients or elderly who are staying in long-term care facilities,” Lise Boey, MSc, a PhD student at Leuven University Vaccinology Center in Belgium, told Infectious Disease News at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research.
According to Boey and colleagues, influenza vaccination coverage rates among HCWs in Europe range from 14% to 45%. In Belgium, where the study was conducted, Flemish officials have set a target of 80% coverage in health care workers by 2020, the researchers reported.
To encourage vaccination, Boey and colleagues created an instruction manual, scientific brochure and other promotional materials containing interventions to encourage influenza vaccination and made them available to Flemish hospitals and long-term care facilities. The interventions were based on insight from a previous study that included 5,141 HCWs from 13 hospitals and 14 long-term care facilities in Flanders.
The manual included 24 interventions addressing a variety of topics, including vaccination without prior enrollment, mobile teams, involvement of supervisors, education and extensive communication with staff members, Boey and colleagues explained.
According to the study, an evaluation during the 2017 vaccination campaign in 11 of the long-term care facilities showed that vaccination coverage increased between 10% and 20% in all nine facilities that implemented seven or more new interventions from the manual. The two facilities that did not see an increase noted that they had barely changed their campaign strategy and implemented little from the manual, according to the researchers.
Additionally, 340 HCWs were evaluated at baseline (in 2016) and follow-up (2017). Boey and colleagues found that self-reported coverage was 58% at baseline and 71.5% at follow-up. Overall, 68.2% of the respondents found the campaign informative, 67.2% indicated that they were well-informed about the risks for influenza, and 63.3% that they were well-informed about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, the researchers reported.
Boey said the manual was overall well-accepted by facilities continues to be used.
“If health care facilities are willing to make an effort and make a good campaign, they can increase their vaccination coverage, but they have to invest time and financial resources to make a well-prepared campaign,” Boey concluded. “We hope that this is more and more widely used in our country, and we hope that many other health care institutions use it.” – by Caitlyn Stulpin
Boey L, et al. Abstract 300. Presented at: NFID Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research; April. 3-5, 2019; Baltimore.
Disclosures: Boey reports no relevant financial disclosures.