Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. Epidemics of influenza can occur every couple of years, and can lead to complications ranging from pneumonia to severe respiratory failure or even death (Bhat et al 2005; CDC 2011). Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of exposure to influenza and may transmit the disease to patients in their care (Talbot et al., 2010).
Influenza vaccination is recommended by WHO globally as an effective intervention to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with Influenza virus infection. These recommendations include (but are not limited to) healthcare personnels, pregnant women, all adults over age 60 (elderly population), and adults and children with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma/COPD, etc. Evidence exists that use of influenza vaccine also improves worker productivity by reducing absenteeism. Due to these reductions in disease morbidity/mortality and worker absenteeism, influenza vaccination is a strongly cost-effective public health intervention in most settings and countries.
Despite this global evidence and global WHO recommendations, the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Indonesia does not recommend nor offer Influenza vaccine in its government health centers and hospitals. Nor does the Ministry of Health recommend/offer Influenza vaccination for its government health workforce. There may be many reasons for this including other competing health priorities and a lack of available resources to pay for Influenza vaccine. One potentially important reason is the general lack of data on the usefulness and feasibility of providing Influenza vaccination to health workers and other high risk groups in government health facilities.
An important reason is that there is no data, that shows the burden of disease of influenza in healthcare professionals in developing countries, describes the age distribution of the disease, or its severity. There is also no data on vaccine effectiveness or efficacy in randomized control trials of the vaccine in healthcare workers, in Asia. With this in mind, WHO with the concurrence of the Ministry of Health, proposes to organize and fund an Influenza vaccination demonstration project in multiple government health facilities from November 2015 – December 2016.