Healtcare workers should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza annually. Although healthy adults do not belong to the at-risk population, there are good reasons for healthcare providers to get immunised against influenza, especially when they have regular contacts with patients and high-risk patients.
First of all, an obvious rule of thumb is that healthcare workers should not pose a risk to their own patients: healthy adults who take care of patients at risk of developing complications when they get influenza, should also get their annual flu shot.
Secondly, healthcare workers should be able to provide care for their patients when they need it, particularly during the influenza season. For healthcare workers, immunisation provides the opportunity to keep taking care of their patients when they are needed the most.
Thirdly, it is important to protect those who protect others against health hazards. Just as adult airline passengers are instructed when the cabin pressure falls to put on their automatic drop-down oxygen mask first — before fitting any to children — the same logic applies to healthcare workers dealing with influenza.
Yet, the rate of vaccination among healthcare workers is low across the globe. Although many countries recognize the need for their healthcare workers to be vaccinated, the fact remains that application of this principle in general remains low. Even in Europe — with some of the world’s most pervasive healthcare systems — vaccination rates among healthcare workers are generally less than 25%.