Vaccination against COVID-19 prevented infection in 10% of NHS healthcare workers and reduced absenteeism by almost 70%.
The rapid roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines from December 2020 prevented infection and reduced exposure to the virus for patient-facing NHS hospital workers in England during the second wave of the pandemic, according to research published in BMJ.
Another study found that both the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines provided strong protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and admissions in healthcare workers. The researchers hope these findings can be used to guide further prevention and control measures.
The study authors compared the efficacy of the Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines against the infection in health and social care workers in England using data from the OpenSAFELY research platform. 317,341 participants were vaccinated between January 4, 2021 and February 28, 2021.
The results showed strong protection from both vaccines with no substantial differences between the 2 vaccines in infection rates or COVID-19-related hospital admissions and attendances. These findings provide insight into SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare and social care workers.
Health care workers were among the first groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination from December 2020. Although frontline health care workers were prioritized during the rollout, coverage varied between groups of health care workers, which may have led to disparities in exposure and protection across the workforce.
In the other study, the researchers investigated the rate, risk factors for, and impact of vaccines on SARS-CoV-2 infection in susceptible hospital healthcare workers during the second wave in England from 1 September 2020 to 30 April 2021. They analyzed the data from the SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation (SIREN) study of 18,283 clinical, support and administrative staff without evidence of previous infection who were recruited from 105 NHS hospital trusts in England.
Participants completed a survey about their demographic, household, and occupational characteristics at enrollment. Subsequent questionnaires were completed every 2 weeks, including information on whether they had been vaccinated.
PCR tests were obtained every 2 weeks and antibody tests monthly throughout the study period. The researchers found that 13% (2,353) of the participants were infected during the second wave, after accounting for demographic, family and occupational factors.
Infections peaked in late December 2020 and then declined from January 2021, consistent with rapid vaccination coverage among healthcare workers and a national lockdown, according to the study’s authors.
Several factors were found to increase the likelihood of infection in the second wave: being under 25 years old, living in a household of 5 or more people, having frequent exposure to patients with COVID-19, working in a ward emergency or hospital ward. placement and being a health care assistant.
Time to first vaccination was found to be strongly associated with infection. Each day without vaccination increased a participant’s chance of becoming infected by 2%.
Mathematical Model simulations showed that an additional 10% of all patient-facing hospital healthcare workers would have been infected if not for the rapid vaccination coverage provided through the rollout. Additionally, staff absenteeism due to COVID-19 could have been 69% higher without the rollout, according to the study.
The authors noted the limitations of the study. Given the observational nature of the study, causation could not be determined. Another limitation was the lack of detail necessary to explore variations in nosocomial infection prevention and control policies.
However, the authors state that SIREN is a large study well positioned to explore the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the hospital workforce.
This study “reinforces the importance of vaccination among healthcare workers during a significant wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in England,” they wrote.
“Greater understanding of transmission dynamics among healthcare workers, particularly by role and setting, will support NHS confidence in protecting their workforce and patients from SARS-CoV-2 infection and other seasonal winter viruses “, the authors concluded.
Vaccines against COVID prevented infection in 10% of patient-facing healthcare personnel during the second wave. EurekAlert. News Notice. July 20, 2022. Accessed July 22, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/959208
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