Objective: To determine the proportion of Canadian emergency department (ED) patients who are at risk for increased morbidity from influenza but were not vaccinated and to determine emergency physicians' (EPs') willingness to screen for and prescribe influenza vaccination.
Methods: The authors surveyed a convenience sample of patients presenting during a one-week period at each of four EDs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, after the end of the seasonal period for vaccination. They also surveyed all full-time EPs in Winnipeg.
Results: Fifty-three percent of emergency patients at risk for increased morbidity from influenza had not been vaccinated and 59.3% of them were willing to be vaccinated during an emergency visit. This represents 31.6% (+/-3.1%) of all high-risk patients and 15% of all emergency patients. High-risk patients who did not have a regular physician were less likely to have been vaccinated (OR 0.165, p = 0.018). Most EPs rarely or never offer influenza vaccination (30% and 57%, respectively). Seventy-six percent of them were willing to prescribe vaccination.
Conclusion: Many ED patients are at risk for increased morbidity from influenza and have not been vaccinated. The majority of them are willing to be vaccinated during an emergency visit and the majority of EPs are willing to prescribe vaccination. Emergency department vaccination for influenza should be considered as a strategy to increase vaccination among high-risk groups.