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Influenza Vaccination Rates in VA SCI Health Care Workers

LaVela SL, Weaver FM, Smith B. Influenza Vaccination Rates in VA SCI Health Care Workers. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2003 Feb 1; Washington, DC.


OBJECTIVES: Morbidity and mortality due to respiratory complications is a significant problem in the spinal cord injury and disorders (SCIandD) population. One strategy to protect SCIandD patients from preventable complications is to reduce exposure to influenza by vaccinating health care providers. This study examined the receipt of influenza vaccination among health care staff working in VA SCI Centers. METHODS: An anonymous survey was mailed to 1556 health care workers employed at 23 VA SCI Centers. Questions inquired about influenza vaccination status, motivators for receipt, influences for non-receipt, attitudes about the vaccine and implications for its use. Questions regarding staff demographic characteristics in addition to type and setting of position held were also asked. Analyses included descriptive statistics and logistic regression. RESULTS: The overall response rate was 73.3% (n = 1140). Respondents included nurses (56%), therapists/psychosocial workers (29%), and practitioners (12%). Over half of the respondents were 26-49 years of age (56%) and 70% were female. The self-reported vaccination rate for the 2001/2002 immunization season was 51%. There was no significant difference in vaccine receipt by provider type. The most frequent motivators for receipt were to protect oneself from getting the flu (77%) and to protect patients from getting the flu (49%). The most common reason for not receiving the vaccine was concern about side effects (44%). Preliminary results using a multivariate logistic regression model suggest that individual characteristics such as being over 50 years of age, being male, having strong beliefs in flu vaccine effectiveness or importance, and having recommended the vaccine to co-workers significantly increased the probability of vaccination receipt. CONCLUSIONS: Health care workers that contract respiratory infections have the potential to expose SCIandD patients to infectious agents and therefore, are an important group to target for vaccination. Strategies to improve vaccination rates in this population should address younger staff, female staff, and should address concerns about side effects. IMPACT STATEMENTS: Although health care providers are aware of the implications of receiving vaccinations for influenza, additional focused educational efforts are warranted to improve annual vaccination rates and decrease exposure of high-risk patients.

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