Objectives: Influenza vaccination has long been recommended for health care workers, but vaccination rates among this group have been low. Data on emergency medical services (EMS) personnel's vaccination status have not been published. This study compared self-reported vaccination rates and barriers among EMS and emergency department (ED) personnel.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of full-time EMS providers servicing metropolitan Rochester, New York, and a convenience sample of ED personnel in an academic medical center in Rochester, New York. Surveys, completed during July and August 2006, focused on influenza vaccination status for the 2005-2006 season and opinions regarding the vaccination. Immunization rates of EMS providers and ED personnel were compared using the chi-square calculation.
Results: Surveys were completed by 128 EMS providers (100% of eligible) and 128 ED personnel (100% of approached). Among EMS providers, 27 of 128 (21%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 14%-29%), and among ED personnel, 83 of 128 (65%; 95% CI 56%-73%) reported receiving an influenza vaccination in the preceding year (p < 0.001). Among interventions that could lead to an increase in influenza vaccination, the most commonly chosen by EMS providers and ED personnel alike were "no waiting" vaccination at work (71% and 62%, respectively) and free vaccination (59% and 50%, respectively). When asked about important factors in the decision whether to get an influenza vaccination the following season, the most common responses were frequency of exposure (71%, 69%) and concern about secondarily exposing family members (62%, 60%).
Conclusion: EMS providers reported low influenza vaccination levels in 2005-2006, even as compared with ED personnel. This failure to receive vaccination poses potential risk to the workers themselves and their patients. Resolution of reported barriers could lead to higher vaccination rates.