Objective: To determine influenza vaccination rates, vaccine effectiveness, and factors influencing vaccination decisions among house staff.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting and participants: All residents registered at the University of Toronto were surveyed after the 1999-2000 influenza season. Of the 1,159 questionnaires mailed, 670 (58%) could be evaluated.
Results: Influenza-like illnesses were reported by 36% of house staff. The vaccination rate was 51% among respondents, being highest for community and occupational medicine and pediatric staff (77% and 75%) and lowest for psychiatry, surgery, and radiology staff (32%, 36%, and 36%). Vaccinees reported significantly fewer episodes of illness (42 vs 54 per 100 subjects; P = .03) and fewer days of illness (272 vs 374 per 100 subjects; P = .02); absenteeism was not different (63 vs 69 per 100 subjects; P = .69). Self-protection was the most common reason for vaccination. Vaccinees believed the vaccine was more effective than did non-vaccinees (P < .01). Non-vaccinees considered influenza-like symptoms the most important side effect of the vaccine. Busy schedules and inconvenience were the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated. Overall, 44% of house staff believed the influenza vaccine should be mandatory.
Conclusions: Influenza-like illness was common among house staff. They tended to work through their illnesses, potentially putting patients at risk. They were motivated mostly by self-protection and did report a benefit. Despite busy schedules and an unfounded fear of getting influenza symptoms from the vaccine, many thought the vaccine should be mandatory.