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A pilot study of an influenza vaccination or mask mandate in an Australian tertiary health service

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To the Editor: Health care workers (HCWs) play an important role in influenza prevention. They are at risk of exposure and subsequent illness which can lead to transmission to close contacts and patients.1 Conversely, high HCW influenza vaccination rates can reduce nosocomial influenza, decrease sickness absenteeism and are cost-effective.2,3 Despite this and the increasingly visible voluntary vaccination programs, the rates of influenza vaccination among HCWs in Australia vary between 16.3% and 58.7%.4 The Victorian Department of Health has recently stated that HCW vaccination must be > 75% in 2014.

Monash Health is a tertiary referral service in Melbourne, Australia, with 2200 beds and 13 389 HCWs. The service provides for 1.3 million residents. The Department of Nephrology (DN) provides dialysis and transplant services and employs 208 HCWs. Annual HCW influenza vaccination is undertaken through the Infection Control and Epidemiology Unit, with vaccinations recorded in a secure database. The program is free and incorporates mobile rounds, extended hours and promotion via newsletters and announcements.