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Public Health Programme (2008-2013)

Coordinator – Institute of Preventive Medicine Enviromental and Occupational Health (Prolepsis, Greece)

HProImmune is a 3-year project funded by the DG SANCO Public Health Program 2008 – 2013 aiming to promote immunization among Health Care Workers (HCWs) in Europe. The project will add to the knowledge on barriers concerning HCW immunizations and develop educational material for health professionals in both the private and the public sector, as well as propose recommendations for policy-makers.

Why such a  project?

The HProImmune project aims to promote immunization among HCWs, which is a vital issue for public health.

Pathogens transmitted via blood or infectious droplets, are known health and occupational risks for health care workers, many of which have died while caring for their patients.

- Examples include viral hemorrhagic fevers, SARS and Tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks.

- Seasonal influenza, on the other hand, causes substantial direct and indirect disease burden every year as far as HCWs are concerned, who are at higher risk for both infection and transmission of influenza to high risk patients and colleagues causing nosocomial outbreaks.

• In relation to influenza, significant outbreaks in health care settings can lead to absenteeism resulting in inadequate staffing, which may in turn diminish quality of care and increase costs.

• Despite a relevant worker protection EU directive (2000/54/EC) that has already been transposed into national legislation, no significant increase in vaccination coverage has been recorded for HCWs.

No uniform recommendation exists for the particular vaccinations needed for HCWs, who in turn do not seem to comply with existing guidance and recommendations for vaccination.

• The EU Council recommendation of 22 December 2009 on seasonal influenza vaccination sets a clear target to reach by 2015 75% vaccination coverage for the older age groups and people with chronic diseases, as well as other high risk groups including, if possible, HCWs. The recent 2009 (H1N1) influenza pandemic experience offers an opportunity to draw valuable lessons for the appropriate approach to HCWs in order to achieve this goal, as the vaccination coverage rates varied significantly among the different countries (e.g. Greece 3,5%, France 8%, Norway 45%).

• Changing HCW behavior towards vaccination will also enable this group to serve as an accurate information source for their patients and communities and become a role model, as surveys showed that health professionals were highly trusted sources concerning advice on immunization with novel influenza vaccine.

The general objective

The general objective of this project is to promote vaccination coverage of HCWs in different health care settings by developing a tailored communication toolkit.

Specific objectives of the project

  1. Increase awareness about the most important vaccine preventable diseases, which pose a particular risk to EU HCWs
  2. Increase awareness about immunizations among HCWs through a database comprising vaccination specific information from across the EU
  3. Provide new knowledge about vaccination behaviors and barriers among HCWs
  4. Identify best practices for the immunization of health professionals
  5. Provide new knowledge on how to communicate and promote immunizations among HCWs by piloting a purpose and tailor-made Immunization Toolkit
  6. Increase awareness and promote HCW immunizations through a widely disseminated and pilot tested HCW Immunization Promotion ToolKit comprising recommendations, communication guidelines, tools and fact sheets.

Target groups

The HProImmune target groups are health professionals, including nursing and auxiliary personnel who come into direct contact with patients, addressed in the following 3 levels:

  1. Individual physicians and their assistants or nurses according to each MS’s legal framework, mainly in primary care, accessed mostly through professional associations.
    Private practicing physicians represent a major part of the HCW workforce, mostly practicing in primary care. Changing their behavior towards vaccination will also enable this group to serve as an accurate information source for their patients and communities and become role models. The HCW Immunization Promotion Toolkit will include guidance, information on the vaccines and presentations addressing the needs of the primary care practitioner and a database of existing EU guidelines, policies and current legislation.
  2. HCWs in the hospital setting (hospital doctors, nurses, auxiliary personnel, laboratory technicians, hospital pharmacy personnel).
    Hospital personnel are also an important target because they come into contact with vulnerable populations and their vaccination status can impact their patients’ outcome. These groups will be indirectly targeted through public health professionals and health care administrators who are responsible for organizing their vaccination.
  3. Public health professionals (working at regional or national level) and health care administrators (working at hospitals or at national level) who are responsible for organizing large scale immunization campaigns for HCW.
    The HCW Immunization Promotion Toolkit will also include information and tools to assist in organizing such activities, registering vaccinated personnel and monitoring adverse effects based on the collaborative work with ECDC/VENICE/EMA, presentations and information material for the organizers.

Information brochure

More information about the project can be found HERE.

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