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CMAJ. 2001 May 15;164(10):1423-7.

Influenza vaccination in Alberta long-term care facilities.

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta.



Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that both staff and residents of long-term care facilities be vaccinated against influenza. This paper describes the influenza vaccination policies and programs, as well as vaccination rates, for staff and residents of long-term care institutions in Alberta. Such data have not previously been reported.


Data were collected by means of an anonymous mail survey (with 2 reminders) sent to Alberta nursing homes and auxiliary hospitals in spring 1999.


Of 160 facilities providing long-term care during the study period, 136 responded to the survey (85%). Of these, only 85 provided data on staff vaccination rates, whereas 118 provided data on resident vaccination rates. For institutions reporting this information, the median proportion of staff vaccinated was 29.9% and the median proportion of residents vaccinated was 91.0%. Only 2 facilities reported that staff vaccination was mandatory; however, only one of these had a written policy consistent with the self-report period. Using a travelling vaccination cart, offering vaccination on night shift, and monitoring and providing feedback about staff vaccination rates were infrequently employed as elements of staff vaccination programs, although all were positively correlated with staff vaccination rates. Standing orders for resident vaccination were reported by only 84 facilities. Fourteen institutions required written consent for vaccination from the resident or a relative. Facility requirements for consent to vaccinate from the resident or a relative were significantly associated with mean vaccine coverage: 90.5% coverage for institutions requiring verbal consent, 86.5% coverage for institutions requiring written consent and 95.0% for institutions not requiring written or verbal consent.


Staff vaccination rates in Alberta long-term care facilities are unacceptably low. Changes in staff vaccination programs may improve the situation even in the absence of mandatory vaccination or work exclusion rules. Requirements for written consent for vaccination of residents of long-term care facilities may be a barrier to immunization.

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