Protection of vaccinated healthcare workers ‘not absolute’

HCWs advised to maintain all infection protection and control measures

It is clear that the protection afforded to healthcare workers by vaccination is not absolute, and it remains prudent to avoid intense exposure as much as possible, cautions the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in new guidance issued today.

While the risk of spread of infection from vaccinated people was expected to be reduced, it may not prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from healthcare worker to patients in all settings, advised the guidance in the updated “Acute Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Precautions for Possible or Confirmed COVID-19 in a Pandemic Setting”.

Furthermore, added the HPSC, there was a risk that variants that evaded vaccine-induced protection may emerge. Therefore, at present it was recommended that even when they had significant vaccine protection, healthcare workers caring for patients should adhere to all infection prevention and control measures in this guideline in the same way as they did prior to vaccination.

This advice is to be reviewed regularly on the basis of emerging evidence and experience. The dramatic effect of vaccination in reducing the number of infections in healthcare workers in the acute hospital setting was now also apparent amongst the wider population as the vaccine programme had progressed, added the document.

The latest guidance provides clarification of pre-admission or transfer testing requirements for those with significant vaccine protection or Covid-19 infection within nine months.

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