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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2002 Sep;73(9):876-80.

Impact of influenza vaccination on civilian aircrew illness and absenteeism.

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  • 1Ruben Berta Foundation/VARIG, Serviço Medico, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



Approximately 10% of the general population worldwide acquires influenza infection every year. Airline crews run a particularly high risk of contracting influenza and influenza-like viruses because they come in contact with hundreds of potentially infected individuals every day. Respiratory diseases are the most frequent cause of absenteeism among flight crews in airline companies. Several studies have shown the efficacy of influenza vaccination in the workplace of healthy, working adults leading to increased productivity and lower absenteeism. We conducted a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on flight crews of an airline company in order to determine the safety and efficacy of a trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine in reducing illness and absences from work.


The 813 healthy members of a Brazilian airline company were randomly assigned to receive injections of either an influenza vaccine or a placebo, with a follow-up period of 7 mo after vaccination. Primary outcomes included influenza-like illness episodes and absenteeism from work due to such episodes.


Demographic characteristics were similar in the two groups. No significant side-effects occurred in either group. Compared to the placebo group, individuals receiving the vaccine showed 39.5% fewer episodes of flu-like illness (p < 0.001) and 26% fewer days of work lost (p = 0.03). The vaccinated group developed 33% fewer episodes of any severe flu-like illness (p < 0.01).


The data indicates that influenza vaccination is safe in airline flight crews and may produce health-related benefits including reduced absenteeism.

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