Implementing mandatory influenza vaccination for hospital staff: examining the current climate in Australia

Dr Holly Seale1, Miss  Alexis Moran1

1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Background:

Healthcare worker (HCW) vaccination against seasonal influenza is considered a key preventative measure within hospitals to reduce the risk of transmission and related disease. Despite this, many facilities experience persistently low vaccination coverage rates and mandatory vaccination has been explored as a potential strategy to improve coverage. This study explored the current climate around staff vaccination in Australia from the perspective of opinion leaders and key stakeholders.

Methods:

Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted between April and July 2018 with 22 individuals involved in vaccination policy and program development and implementation from a range of organisations including state health departments, hospitals across Australia. In addition, interviews were undertaken with individuals from nursing peak bodies/colleges. Interviews were transcribed, and thematic analysis was undertaken using NVivo 12 software.

Results:

Major themes emerging from the interviews included a sense that attitudes around staff vaccination are changing; the persistence of administrative and resource barriers; the importance of positive workplace culture towards influenza vaccination; and the need for individualised and personal communication strategies. Perspectives were diverse on the necessity of introducing stronger policies, with participants divided in their support mandatory influenza vaccinations. Some advocated that key performance indicators should be used as an alternative to vaccine mandates.

Conclusions:

This study provides policy makers with useful insights into the current Australian context around occupational vaccination policies, to inform acceptable and effective strategies to improve influenza vaccination uptake among Australian hospital staff.


Biography:

Is a social scientist with 11 years postdoctoral experience in public health and health service research. She is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Sydney. Within her research program, she has developed a reputation for exploring the individual, societal and organisational factors that influence compliance with infection prevention strategies and formulates and develops approaches and interventions to improve uptake. Her research includes qualitative and quantitative research approaches and consumers such as hospital/community healthcare workers, special at-risk groups and the general public

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