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Am J Infect Control. 2003 May;31(3):144-50.

Do we practice what we preach? Health care worker screening and vaccination.

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Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Control Branch, New South Wales Public Health Officer Training Program, New South Wales Health Department, North Sydney, Australia.



To describe the current screening and immunization practices in New South Wales (NSW) hospitals and the experience of NSW nurses in relation to screening and immunization and to identify areas that can be targeted for improvement.


This was a cross-sectional survey.


The study was performed in NSW, Australia.


We used a written questionnaire to survey the infection control/occupational health coordinators of all of the 85 private hospitals and 204 eligible public hospitals in NSW and 800 randomly sampled registered nurses.


Response rates were high (hospitals [90%], nurses [70%]). Hospitals almost universally offered hepatitis B vaccination to nurses (251/261, 96%), but more than one quarter (132/473, 28%) of nurses reported incomplete vaccination. Provision to physicians was relatively poor (142/261, 54%). The majority of nurses (> 80%) had been vaccinated with bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, but hospitals reported variable tuberculosis screening practices. Both hospitals and nurses reported low rates (< 30%) of screening and vaccination provision for varicella and measles-mumps-rubella. Two thirds of NSW hospitals (174/261, 67%) provided annual influenza vaccination.


Even though hepatitis B immunization programs were widespread, their effectiveness could be improved by ensuring that vaccination schedules are completed and by targeting physicians. Varicella and measles-mumps-rubella screening and immunization programs are currently lacking. Better strategies are needed to improve the implementation of health care worker protection guidelines in hospitals.

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