Background: There is a widely recognized need for vaccination of health care workers (HCWs). We undertook this study to assess the 2009-2010 H1N1 vaccination rates in ∼14,000 firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers at the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and to determine predictors of H1N1 vaccine acceptance.
Methods: After 9/11/01, FDNY developed a bio-preparedness drill where units are dispatched to FDNY-BIOPOD (biologic points of distributions) for rapid distribution of medications/vaccines in the event of a biological disaster. Since 2005, FDNY offers free, voluntary seasonal influenza vaccination during routine medical monitoring/treatment examinations and at FDNY-BIOPOD. In 2009, FDNY-BIOPOD instead offered the H1N1 vaccine. We report on FDNY H1N1 vaccination rates and on predictors of acceptance using bivariate and multivariable techniques.
Results: Overall, 10,612 (77%) FDNY workers were offered H1N1 vaccination, of whom 5831 (55%) accepted. Acceptance was 57.2% during FDNY-BIOPOD compared with 34.4% during medical monitoring/treatment exams (p=0.0001). Workers who accepted prior seasonal influenza vaccinations were 4 times more likely to accept H1N1 vaccination (AOR=4.4, CI(95)=4.0-4.8).
Conclusion: FDNY offered H1N1 vaccination to 77% of its workforce during the 2009-2010 season. Prior seasonal vaccine acceptance and vaccination in a group setting such as FDNY-BIOPOD dramatically increased acceptance of the H1N1 vaccine. However, within a voluntary program, additional strategies are needed to further increase vaccine acceptance in first responders and other HCWs.
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