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To determine the prevalence of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) IgG nucleocapsid (N) antibodies among healthcare personnel (HCP) with no prior history of COVID-19 and to identify factors associated with seropositivity.
Prospective cohort study.
An academic, tertiary-care hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
The study included 400 HCP aged ≥18 years who potentially worked with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and had no known history of COVID-19; 309 of these HCP also completed a follow-up visit 70–160 days after enrollment. Enrollment visits took place between September and December 2020. Follow-up visits took place between December 2020 and April 2021.
At each study visit, participants underwent SARS-CoV-2 IgG N-antibody testing using the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay and completed a survey providing information about demographics, job characteristics, comorbidities, symptoms, and potential SARS-CoV-2 exposures.
Participants were predominately women (64%) and white (79%), with median age of 34.5 years (interquartile range [IQR], 30–45). Among the 400 HCP, 18 (4.5%) were seropositive for IgG N-antibodies at enrollment. Also, 34 (11.0%) of 309 were seropositive at follow-up. HCP who reported having a household contact with COVID-19 had greater likelihood of seropositivity at both enrollment and at follow-up.
In this cohort of HCP during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ∼1 in 20 had serological evidence of prior, undocumented SARS-CoV-2 infection at enrollment. Having a household contact with COVID-19 was associated with seropositivity.
To characterize experiences, beliefs, and perceptions of risk related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), infection prevention practices, and COVID-19 vaccination among healthcare personnel (HCP) at nonacute care facilities.
Three non–acute-care facilities in St. Louis, Missouri.
In total, 156 HCP responded to the survey, for a 25.6% participation rate). Among them, 32% had direct patient-care roles.
Anonymous surveys were distributed between April-May 2021. Data were collected on demographics, work experience, COVID-19 exposure, knowledge, and beliefs about infection prevention, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, COVID-19 vaccination, and the impact of COVID-19.
Nearly all respondents reported adequate knowledge of how to protect oneself from COVID-19 at work (97%) and had access to adequate PPE supplies (95%). Many HCP reported that wearing a mask or face shield made communication difficult (59%), that they had taken on additional responsibilities due to staff shortages (56%), and that their job became more stressful because of COVID-19 (53%). Moreover, 28% had considered quitting their job. Most respondents (78%) had received at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Common reasons for vaccination were a desire to protect family and friends (84%) and a desire to stop the spread of COVID-19 (82%). Potential side effects and/or inadequate vaccine testing were cited as the most common concerns by unvaccinated HCP.
A significant proportion of HCP reported increased stress and responsibilities at work due to COVID-19. The majority were vaccinated. Improving workplace policies related to mental health resources and sick leave, maintaining access to PPE, and ensuring clear communication of PPE requirements may improve workplace stress and burnout.
Hospitals are increasingly consolidating into health systems. Some systems have appointed healthcare epidemiologists to lead system-level infection prevention programs. Ideal program infrastructure and support resources have not been described. We informally surveyed 7 healthcare epidemiologists with recent experience building and leading system-level infection prevention programs. Key facilitators and barriers for program structure and implementation are described.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine effectiveness in the early months of vaccine availability was high among healthcare personnel (HCP) at 88.3% for 2-doses. Among those testing positive for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), those with breakthrough infection after vaccination were more likely to have had a non–work-related SARS-CoV-2 exposure compared to unvaccinated HCP.
To identify characteristics associated with positive severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in healthcare personnel.
Retrospective cohort study.
A multihospital healthcare system.
Employees who reported SARS-CoV-2 exposures and/or symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) between March 30, 2020, and September 20, 2020, and were subsequently referred for SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing.
Data from exposure and/or symptom reports were linked to the corresponding SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result. Employee demographic characteristics, occupational characteristics, SARS-CoV-2 exposure history, and symptoms were evaluated as potential risk factors for having a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test.
Among 6,289 employees who received SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, 873 (14%) had a positive test. Independent risk factors for a positive PCR included: working in a patient care area (relative risk [RR], 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37–2.40), having a known SARS-CoV-2 exposure (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04–1.37), reporting a community versus an occupational exposure (RR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.49–2.34), and having an infected household contact (RR, 2.47; 95% CI, 2.11–2.89). Nearly all HCP (99%) reported symptoms. Symptoms associated with a positive PCR in a multivariable analysis included loss of sense of smell (RR, 2.60; 95% CI, 2.09–3.24) or taste (RR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.40–2.20), cough (RR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.40–2.20), fever, and muscle aches.
In this cohort of >6,000 healthcare system and academic medical center employees early in the pandemic, community exposures, and particularly household exposures, were associated with greater risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection than occupational exposures. This work highlights the importance of COVID-19 prevention in the community and in healthcare settings to prevent COVID-19.
In a prospective cohort of healthcare personnel (HCP), we measured severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid IgG antibodies after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among 79 HCP, 68 (86%) were seropositive 14–28 days after their positive PCR test, and 54 (77%) of 70 were seropositive at the 70–180-day follow-up. Many seropositive HCP (95%) experienced an antibody decline by the second visit.
To determine the impact of various aerosol mitigation interventions and to establish duration of aerosol persistence in a variety of dental clinic configurations.
We performed aerosol measurement studies in endodontic, orthodontic, periodontic, pediatric, and general dentistry clinics. We used an optical aerosol spectrometer and wearable particulate matter sensors to measure real-time aerosol concentration from the vantage point of the dentist during routine care in a variety of clinic configurations (eg, open bay, single room, partitioned operatories). We compared the impact of aerosol mitigation strategies (eg, ventilation and high-volume evacuation (HVE), and prevalence of particulate matter) in the dental clinic environment before, during, and after high-speed drilling, slow–speed drilling, and ultrasonic scaling procedures.
Conical and ISOVAC HVE were superior to standard-tip evacuation for aerosol-generating procedures. When aerosols were detected in the environment, they were rapidly dispersed within minutes of completing the aerosol-generating procedure. Few aerosols were detected in dental clinics, regardless of configuration, when conical and ISOVAC HVE were used.
Dentists should consider using conical or ISOVAC HVE rather than standard-tip evacuators to reduce aerosols generated during routine clinical practice. Furthermore, when such effective aerosol mitigation strategies are employed, dentists need not leave dental chairs fallow between patients because aerosols are rapidly dispersed.
Although a growing number of healthcare facilities are implementing healthcare personnel (HCP) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination requirements, vaccine exemption request management as a part of such programs is not well described.
Infectious disease (ID) physician members of the Emerging Infections Network with infection prevention or hospital epidemiology responsibilities.
Eligible persons were sent a web-based survey focused on hospital plans and practices around exemption allowances from HCP COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Of the 695 ID physicians surveyed, 263 (38%) responded. Overall, 160 respondent institutions (92%) allowed medical exemptions, whereas 132 (76%) allowed religious exemptions. In contrast, only 14% (n = 24) allowed deeply held personal belief exemptions. The types of medical exemptions allowed varied considerably across facilities, with allergic reactions to the vaccine or its components accepted by 145 facilities (84%). For selected scenarios commonly used as the basis for religious and deeply held personal belief exemption requests, 144 institutions (83%) would not approve exemptions focused on concerns regarding right of consent or violations of freedom of personal choice, and 140 institutions (81%) would not approve exemptions focused on introducing foreign substances into one’s body or the sanctity of the body. Most respondents noted plans for additional infection prevention interventions for HCP who received an exemption for COVID-19 vaccination.
Although many respondent institutions allowed exemptions from HCP COVID-19 vaccination requirements, the types of exemptions allowed and how the exemption programs were structured varied widely.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine may hold the key to ending the pandemic, but vaccine hesitancy is hindering the vaccination of healthcare personnel (HCP). We examined their perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine and implemented an intervention to increase vaccination uptake.
Participants and setting:
Healthcare personnel at a 790-bed tertiary-care center in Tokyo, Japan.
A prevaccination questionnaire was administered to HCP to examine their perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine. A multifaceted intervention was then implemented involving (1) distribution of informational leaflets to all HCP, (2) hospital-wide announcements encouraging vaccination, (3) a mandatory lecture, (4) an educational session about the vaccine for pregnant or breastfeeding HCP, and (5) allergy testing for HCP at risk of allergic reactions to the vaccine. A postvaccination survey was also performed.
Of 1,575 HCP eligible for enrollment, 1,224 (77.7%) responded to the questionnaire, 533 (43.5%) expressed willingness to be vaccinated, 593 (48.4%) were uncertain, and 98 (8.0%) expressed unwillingness to be vaccinated. The latter 2 groups were concerned about the vaccine’s safety rather than its efficacy. After the intervention, the overall vaccination rate reached 89.7% (1,413 of 1,575), and 88.9% (614 of 691) of the prevaccination survey respondents answered “unwilling” to or “unsure” about eventually receiving a vaccination. In the postvaccination questionnaire, factors contributing to increased COVID-19 vaccination included information and endorsement of vaccination at the medical center (274 of 1,037, 26.4%).
This multifaceted intervention increased COVID-19 vaccinations among HCP at a Japanese hospital. Frequent support and provision of information were crucial for increasing the vaccination rate and may be applicable to the general population as well.
This consensus statement by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA), the Association for Professionals in Epidemiology and Infection Control (APIC), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) recommends that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination should be a condition of employment for all healthcare personnel in facilities in the United States. Exemptions from this policy apply to those with medical contraindications to all COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States and other exemptions as specified by federal or state law. The consensus statement also supports COVID-19 vaccination of nonemployees functioning at a healthcare facility (eg, students, contract workers, volunteers, etc).
We surveyed infectious disease specialists about early coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination preparedness. Almost all responding institutions rated their facility’s preparedness plan as either excellent or adequate. Vaccine hesitancy and concern about adverse reactions were the most commonly anticipated barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. Only 60% believed that COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory.
This SHEA white paper identifies knowledge gaps and challenges in healthcare epidemiology research related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with a focus on core principles of healthcare epidemiology. These gaps, revealed during the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, are described in 10 sections: epidemiology, outbreak investigation, surveillance, isolation precaution practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), environmental contamination and disinfection, drug and supply shortages, antimicrobial stewardship, healthcare personnel (HCP) occupational safety, and return to work policies. Each section highlights three critical healthcare epidemiology research questions with detailed description provided in supplementary materials. This research agenda calls for translational studies from laboratory-based basic science research to well-designed, large-scale studies and health outcomes research. Research gaps and challenges related to nursing homes and social disparities are included. Collaborations across various disciplines, expertise and across diverse geographic locations will be critical.
We performed a mixed-methods study to evaluate antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) uptake and to assess variability of program implementation in Missouri hospitals. Despite increasing uptake of ASPs in Missouri, there is wide variability in both the scope and sophistication of these programs.
Presenteeism, or working while ill, by healthcare personnel (HCP) experiencing influenza-like illness (ILI) puts patients and coworkers at risk. However, hospital policies and practices may not consistently facilitate HCP staying home when ill.
Objective and methods:
We conducted a mixed-methods survey in March 2018 of Emerging Infections Network infectious diseases physicians, describing institutional experiences with and policies for HCP working with ILI.
Of 715 physicians, 367 (51%) responded. Of 367, 135 (37%) were unaware of institutional policies. Of the remaining 232 respondents, 206 (89%) reported institutional policies regarding work restrictions for HCP with influenza or ILI, but only 145 (63%) said these were communicated at least annually. More than half of respondents (124, 53%) reported that adherence to work restrictions was not monitored or enforced. Work restrictions were most often not perceived to be enforced for physicians-in-training and attending physicians. Nearly all (223, 96%) reported that their facility tracked laboratory-confirmed influenza (LCI) in patients; 85 (37%) reported tracking ILI. For employees, 109 (47%) reported tracking of LCI and 53 (23%) reported tracking ILI. For independent physicians, not employed by the facility, 30 (13%) reported tracking LCI and 11 (5%) ILI.
More than one-third of respondents were unaware of whether their institutions had policies to prevent HCP with ILI from working; among those with knowledge of institutional policies, dissemination, monitoring, and enforcement of these policies was highly variable. Improving communication about work-restriction policies, as well as monitoring and enforcement, may help prevent the spread of infections from HCP to patients.
We conducted active surveillance of acute respiratory viral infections (ARIs) among residents and healthcare personnel (HCP) at a long-term care facility during the 2015–2016 respiratory illness season. ARIs were observed among both HCP and patients, highlighting the importance of including HCP in surveillance programs.