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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pertussis vaccination in Child Care Workers: room for improvement in coverage, policy and practice

Kirsty Hope1*, Michelle Butler1, Peter D Massey2, Patrick Cashman3, David N Durrheim1, Jody Stephenson1 and April Worley2

Author Affiliations

1 Hunter New England Population Health, University of Newcastle, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW, Australia, 2287

2 Hunter New England Population Health, University of New England, Locked Bag 9783, NEMSC, Tamworth, NSW, Australia, 2340

3 Hunter New England Population Health, PO Box 448, Forster, NSW, Australia, 2428

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BMC Pediatrics 2012, 12:98  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-98

Published: 13 July 2012

Abstract

Background

The “Staying Healthy in Child Care” Australian guidelines provide for illness and disease exclusions and encourage vaccination of staff in child care settings, however these requirements are not subject to accreditation and licensing, and their level of implementation is unknown. This study aimed to describe pertussis vaccination coverage in child care workers in a regional area of northern NSW during 2010; review current staff pertussis vaccination practices; and explore barriers to vaccination.

Methods

A cross sectional survey of all child care centre directors in the Hunter New England (HNE) area of northern NSW was conducted in 2010 using a computer assisted telephone interviewing service.

Results

Ninety-eight percent (319/325) of child care centres identified within the HNE area participated in the survey. Thirty-five percent (113/319) of centres indicated that they had policies concerning respiratory illness in staff members. Sixty-three percent (202/319) of centres indicated that they kept a record of staff vaccination, however, of the 170 centre’s who indicated they updated their records, 74% (125/170) only updated records if a staff member notified them. Of centres with records, 58% indicated that fewer than half of their staff were vaccinated.

Conclusion

Many childcare workers have not had a recent pertussis immunisation. This potentially places young children at risk at an age when they are most vulnerable to severe disease. With increasing use of child care, national accreditation and licensing requirements need to monitor the implementation of policies on child care worker vaccination. Higher levels of vaccination would assist in reducing the risk of pertussis cases and subsequent outbreaks in child care centres.