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CMAJ. 1990 Jan 15;142(2):127-30.

Evaluation of adverse events after influenza vaccination in hospital personnel.

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  • 1Vaccine Evaluation Center, British Columbia's Children's Hospital, Vancouver.


Reactogenicity of trivalent influenza vaccine prepared for the 1988-89 season was assessed as part of a first-time voluntary influenza prevention program among hospital staff. Of approximately 500 full-time workers in areas with the highest concentrations of patients at high risk for influenza complications offered the vaccine 288 accepted. Of these, 266 (92%) returned a questionnaire regarding any symptoms experienced within 48 hours after vaccination; 238 (90%) of the respondents reported adverse effects. Soreness at the injection site was described by 229 subjects, 58 (25%) of whom had constant aching and 123 (54%) soreness with arm movement. Symptoms resolved in 1 to 2 days, and only 21 (9%) of those who reported symptoms said they took analgesic medication. Systemic adverse effects were described by 130 subjects (49%). Intercurrent illness accounted for some of these complaints, but 65 people (24%) described at least two of the following symptoms: generalized aching, tiredness, nausea, chills or onset of fever within 12 hours after vaccination (a symptom complex previously attributed to influenza vaccine). Systemic symptoms resolved within 0.5 to 2 days. Thirteen subjects (5%) reported missing work because of arm soreness (1 subject) or systemic symptoms (12). Adverse effects were encountered more often than expected, probably because most of the workers were young and lacked immunity to influenza. Acceptability of the program could likely be improved by using a split-virus vaccine.

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