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Objectives: Influenza vaccination is encouraged for all healthcare workers (HCWs) to reduce the risk of acquiring the infection and onward transmission to colleagues and patients during the influenza season. Thus, vaccination was introduced at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in 2007 and has been offered to all HCWs at no cost. The HCW influenza vaccination program is conducted annually in October and biannually during years with vaccine mismatch. However, influenza vaccine uptake remained low among HCWs. We sought to determine the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on influenza vaccine uptake among HCWs. Methods: At SGH, 2 methods of vaccine delivery are offered: centralized (1-month drop-in system during office hours) and decentralized (administered by vaccination teams in offices or ward staff in inpatient locations). In the 4-year study period between 2018 and 2021, 6 influenza vaccination exercise campaigns were conducted during 8 influenza seasons. During each exercise, ~9,000 HCWs were eligible for vaccination. Results: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere was 77.6% (6,964 of 8,977) in 2018 and 84.2% (7,296 of 8,670) in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere increased by 10% to 94.1% (8,361 of 8,889). In the Northern Hemisphere, vaccine uptake was 79.2% (7,114 of 8,977) in 2018, and this increased by 17.9% to 97.1% (8,926 of 9,194) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During the 2021 Southern Hemisphere influenza season, no vaccination program was conducted because the risk of influenza was considered low due to the closure of international borders and the implementation of public health measures. In addition, priority was given to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Conclusions: Increased uptake of the influenza vaccination was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety created by the respiratory disease pandemic and debate surrounding vaccines likely contributed to increased awareness and uptake in influenza vaccine among HCWs.
Background: Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is the largest acute tertiary-care hospital in Singapore. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring COVID-19 in both the community and workplaces. SGH has a robust exposure management process including prompt contact tracing, immediate ring fencing, lock down of affected cubicles or single room isolation for patient contacts, and home isolation orders for staff contacts of COVID-19 cases during the containment phase of the pandemic. Contacts were also placed on enhanced surveillance with PCR testing on days 1 and 4 as well as daily antigen rapid tests (ARTs) for 10 days after exposure. Here, we describe the characteristic of HCWs with COVID-19 during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This retrospective observational study included all SGH HCWs who acquired COVID-19 during the third wave (ie, the 18-week period from September 1 to December 31, 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic. Univariate analysis was used to compare characteristics of work-associated infection (WAI) and community-acquired infection (CAI) among HCWs. Results: Among a workforce of >10,000 at SGH, 335 HCWs acquired COVID-19 during study period. CAI (exposure to known clusters or household contact) accounted for 111 HCW infections (33.1%). Also, 48 HCWs (14.3%) had a WAI (ie, acquired at their work places where there was no patient contact). Among WAsI, only 5 HCWs had hospital-acquired infection (confirmed by phylogenetic analysis). The sources of exposure for the remaining 176 HCWs were unknown. Weekly incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was comparable to the epidemiology curve of all cases in Singapore (Fig. 1 and 2). The mean age of HCWs with COVID-19 was 39.6 years, and most were women. At the time of positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, 223 HCWs were symptomatic, and 67 (20.0%) of them had comorbidities. Only 16 HCWs (4.8%) required hospitalization, and all recovered fully with no mortality (Table 1). Being female was associated with community COVID-19 acquisition (OR, 4.6, P Conclusions: During the thrid wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher percentage of HCWs at SGH acquired the infection from the community than from the workplace. Safe management measures, such as universal masking, social distancing, and robust exposure management processes including prompt contact tracing and environmental disinfection, can reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the hospital work environment.
Sporadic clusters of healthcare-associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred despite intense rostered routine surveillance and a highly vaccinated healthcare worker (HCW) population, during a community surge of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) B.1.617.2 δ (delta) variant. Genomic analysis facilitated timely cluster detection and uncovered additional linkages via HCWs moving between clinical areas and among HCWs sharing a common lunch area, enabling early intervention.
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