Doubt over health workers’ flu shots
EVIDENCE for mandatory flu vaccination of healthcare workers to protect patients has been described as “thin at best” by South Australian reviewers, who may reignite debate on the issue.
A team led by Dr Jackie Street from the School of Population Health, University of Adelaide, reviewed national guidelines in Australia, NZ, the US, Canada and the UK, and examined the evidence underpinning them.
“The evidence that vaccinating healthcare workers makes a difference to transmission rates in open hospital settings, we would suggest, is thin at best but many guidelines and papers which call for mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers gloss over or distort the evidence, which does exist, in order to support a particular advocacy stand,” Dr Street said.
The authors were calling for greater transparency in the communication of uncertainty about evidence, she said.
But Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney, said the issue was complex and the SA study bordered on “ivory tower analysis”.
Professor Booy said he was “almost convinced” of the case for mandatory flu vaccination, and its implementation in some US hospitals provided “food for thought”.
Politically it would be extremely difficult to make it work, he said, and a voluntary system would be preferable.
“I believe with clear and careful explanation to healthcare professionals they would take up the vaccine voluntarily provided there was good communication, local champions and access to free vaccine.”
Aust NZ J Public Health 2012; online
Tags: , Medical News