Objectives: Guidelines for vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) have been available in Victoria since 1998. We estimated knowledge and attitudes towards vaccination among HCWs as well as self-reported vaccination status in a tertiary adult hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in July 2000 using a telephone questionnaire and proportionate random sampling.

Results: Only 18% of 269 HCWs were fully vaccinated. Most (76%) had not heard of or seen current guidelines for HCW vaccination despite a stated belief in the importance of full vaccination (94%) and a willingness to update their vaccination status if necessary (96%). Less than half kept vaccination records (39%). Hepatitis B vaccination (95%) was most commonly completed. However, only half of all HCWs had received influenza vaccination in the past 12 months and other vaccines often had suboptimal coverage. A common reason cited for avoiding vaccination was concern over vaccine side effects (17%). While the hospital staff clinic was an acceptable site for vaccination, improved access was seen as important.

Conclusions: HCW vaccination coverage and knowledge of vaccination requirements were poor. Concerns about vaccine side effects were common.

Implications: Adequately resourced HCW vaccination programs that include ongoing education for HCWs and improved access to vaccination are necessary to improve vaccination coverage and reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases among staff and patients.