Vaccination is considered a key measure to protect vulnerable groups against influenza infection. The objectives of this review are to determine the effect of influenza vaccinations in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza infections, influenza-like illnesses (ILIs), working days lost among vaccinated HCWs, and associated adverse effects after vaccination. Twenty-two healthcare-related databases and internet resources, as well as reference lists, and the bibliographies of all of the retrieved articles were examined. All randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the effectiveness of any kind of influenza vaccine among all groups of HCWs with a placebo/vaccine other than the influenza vaccine/no intervention were included in the review. Only three RCTs matched the inclusion criteria. There is a limited amount of evidence suggesting that receiving influenza vaccination reduces laboratory-confirmed influenza infections in HCWs. No evidence can be found of influenza vaccinations significantly reducing the incidence of influenza, number of ILI episodes, days with ILI symptoms, or amount of sick leave taken among vaccinated HCWs. There is insufficient data to assess the adverse effects after vaccination. There is no definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of influenza vaccinations in HCWs because of the limited number of related trials. Further research is necessary to evaluate whether annual vaccination is a key measure to protect HCWs against influenza infection and thus increase their confidence in the vaccine. In the mean time, the direction of promoting influenza vaccination to HCWs can be shifted from staff protection to patient protection, with accurate information to address concerns and misconceptions.
Copyright © 2011 The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.