Health workers are at higher risk of influenza infection than the general population. In addition to morbidity among health workers, influenza infection may also lead to increased absenteeism, presenteeism1 and disruption of medical services. Moreover, influenza infected health workers may contribute to nosocomial transmission of infection to their patients, including those at high risk for developing severe influenza disease and complications. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers health workers to be a priority target group for seasonal influenza vaccination. In addition, influenza vaccination of health workers contributes to influenza pandemic preparedness. Finally, studies have shown that health workers who are vaccinated against influenza themselves are more likely to recommend vaccination to their patients.
This manual serves as a resource to assist users in establishing a national policy for seasonal influenza vaccination of health workers. It provides guidance along with a catalogue of available tools to facilitate policy development, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of influenza vaccination of health workers. The contents of the manual are meant to supplement the document titled “Principles and considerations for adding a vaccine to a national immunization program: from decision to implementation and monitoring”, published by WHO in 2014.
The main target audiences for this manual include national policy makers; national health planners; the national programme managers for immunization and occupational health; and those responsible for occupational health, health worker immunization and infection control in health facilities. Close collaboration between immunization managers, and occupational health and infection control programmes is essential to optimize vaccine uptake, and for a cohesive and comprehensive approach to influenza control in health facilities.
This manual summarizes the evidence and rationale, provides guidance on key issues, and lists available tools for influenza vaccination of health workers, covering three main components of vaccine introduction and management:
- Establishing an evidence-based national policy for seasonal influenza vaccination of health workers.
- Planning and management of health worker influenza vaccination.
- Monitoring and evaluation, including assessing vaccination coverage, monitoring for adverse events following immunization, impact assessment and post-introduction evaluation.