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Use of, Effectiveness of, and Attitudes Regarding Influenza Vaccine Among House Staff

  • Richard T. Lester (a1) (a2) (a3), Allison McGeer (a1) (a2) (a3), George Tomlinson (a1) (a2) (a3) and Allan S. Detsky (a1) (a2) (a3)

To determine influenza vaccination rates, vaccine effectiveness, and factors influencing vaccination decisions among house staff.


Cross-sectional survey.

Setting and Participants:

All residents registered at the University of Toronto were surveyed after the 1999-2000 influenza season. Of the 1,159 questionnaires mailed, 670 (58%) could be evaluated.


Influenza-like illnesses were reported by 36% of house staff. The vaccination rate was 51% among respondents, being highest for community and occupational medicine and pediatric staff (77% and 75%) and lowest for psychiatry, surgery, and radiology staff (32%, 36%, and 36%). Vaccinees reported significantly fewer episodes of illness (42 vs 54 per 100 subjects; P = .03) and fewer days of illness (272 vs 374 per 100 subjects; P = .02); absenteeism was not different (63 vs 69 per 100 subjects; P = .69). Self-protection was the most common reason for vaccination. Vaccinees believed the vaccine was more effective than did non-vaccinees (P < .01). Non-vaccinees considered influenza-like symptoms the most important side effect of the vaccine. Busy schedules and inconvenience were the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated. Overall, 44% of house staff believed the influenza vaccine should be mandatory.


Influenza-like illness was common among house staff. They tended to work through their illnesses, potentially putting patients at risk. They were motivated mostly by self-protection and did report a benefit. Despite busy schedules and an unfounded fear of getting influenza symptoms from the vaccine, many thought the vaccine should be mandatory.

Corresponding author
Mount Sinai Hospital, Room 1460, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X5
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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