There was a “marked reduction” in influenza vaccine uptake among healthcare workers (HCWs) in 2022-2023 compared to the previous season, according to a report by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
The document, published on 23 October, provides information on influenza vaccine uptake by HCWs; and by residents in long-term care facilities (LTCFs).
In 2021-2022, uptake among hospital-based HCWs was 64 per cent (64.5 per cent in HSE hospitals), which was “considerably more” than the 54.2 per cent (54.4 per cent in HSE hospitals) in the 2022-2023 season.
A decline in uptake among HCWs in LTCFs “was not as marked”. Uptake was 48.9 per cent in 2022-2023 compared with 55.2 per cent in 2021-2022.
As was the case in the previous season, HCWs (both HSE and non-HSE) were entitled to obtain free vaccination in the primary care setting if it was more convenient for them to do so.
“It is possible therefore that some HCWs, who were vaccinated in these settings, may not have reported their status to their workplace managers, and, as a result the uptake reported would have been less than what it actually was,” according to the report.
Another possible explanation for the findings was “the reliance of data providers on the COVAX/IIS system to capture counts of all flu vaccination records”. The COVAX system is an electronic dataset which records Covid-19 vaccinations for all residents in the State.
There were other issues that may have contributed to under-reporting of uptake, including “training of vaccinators and administrators on the COVAX input systems being subject to significant turnover”.
On 31 October, Chief Nursing Officer Ms Rachel Kenna encouraged health and social care staff to receive their influenza and Covid-19 booster vaccinations to “protect themselves and vulnerable patients”. “Walk-in vaccination clinics for healthcare workers are operating around the country,” she stated.