Background: Healthcare workers in primary care are at risk of infection during an influenza pandemic. The 2009 influenza pandemic provided an opportunity to assess this risk.
Aim: To measure the prevalence of seropositivity to influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 among primary healthcare workers in Canterbury, New Zealand, following the 2009 influenza pandemic, and to examine associations between seropositivity and participants' sociodemographic characteristics, professional roles, work patterns, and seasonal influenza vaccination status.
Design and setting: An observational study involving a questionnaire and testing for influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 seropositivity in all primary healthcare workers in Canterbury, New Zealand between December 2009 and February 2010. Method Participants completed a questionnaire that recorded sociodemographic and professional data, symptoms of influenza-like illness, history of seasonal influenza vaccination, and work patterns. Serum samples were collected and haemagglutination inhibition antibody titres to influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 measured.
Results: Questionnaires and serum samples were received from 1027 participants, from a workforce of 1476 (response rate 70%). Seropositivity was detected in 224 participants (22%). Receipt of seasonal influenza vaccine (odds ratio [OR] = 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2 to 3.3), recall of influenza (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3 to 2.8), and age ≤45 years (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0 to 1.9) were associated with seropositivity.
Conclusion: A total of 22% of primary care healthcare workers were seropositive. Younger participants, those who recalled having influenza, and those who had been vaccinated against seasonal influenza were more likely to be seropositive. Working in a dedicated influenza centre was not associated with an increased risk of seropositivity.