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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2009 Oct;30(10):1006-11. doi: 10.1086/605923.

Medical and nursing students with suboptimal protective immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases.

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  • 1Athens University, Greece.



Medical and nursing students (hereafter referred to as "healthcare students") are at risk of contracting and transmitting infectious diseases in a hospital setting. The aim of our study was to evaluate the vaccination history of healthcare students and their serologic immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases.


Prospective cohort study.


A tertiary care children's hospital in Athens, Greece, which is affiliated with the University of Athens.


Healthcare students were recruited during April through November 2007. The information obtained from these students during personal interviews included demographics and whether there was a history of varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, and/or hepatitis A or B virus infection. Vaccination history and documentation of disease were abstracted from available medical records. Serum antibodies against the above-mentioned viral agents were determined by use of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Seronegative students and those with immunization gaps were referred to local vaccination clinics, and compliance was assessed 3 months later.


A total of 187 healthcare students were recruited, 131 (70.1%) of whom provided complete documentation of vaccination history. Adequate immunity against diphtheria and tetanus was documented for 55 (37.2%) and 73 (49.3%) of the 148 participants, respectively, whereas age-appropriate vaccination against pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis was noted for 138 (93.2%), 147 (99.3%), 147 (99.3%), and 147 (99.3%) healthcare students, respectively. Of 185 healthcare students, 171 (92.4%) were immune to varicella. Of 182 healthcare students, 179 (98.4%) were immune to measles, 163 (89.6%) were immune to mumps, and 176 (96.7%) were immune to rubella. Of 179 healthcare students, 151 (84.4%) were immune to hepatitis B virus. Of 178 healthcare students, 26 (14.6%) were immune to hepatitis A virus. Antibodies (10 IU/L or higher) to hepatitis B surface antigen were detected for 151 (84.4%) of 179 healthcare students, and antibodies (10 IU/L or higher) to hepatitis A virus were detected for 26 (14.6%) of 178 healthcare students. Fewer than 30% of participants were in full compliance with recommended vaccinations.


We have determined that there is a certain proportion of healthcare students who are susceptible to certain vaccine-preventable diseases. The development of an appropriate vaccination strategy is required to decrease the risk of transmission in a hospital setting.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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