Background: Unvaccinated health care personnel are at increased risk for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases to their patients. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that health care personnel, including students, receive measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella, influenza, and pertussis vaccines. Prematriculation vaccination requirements of health professional schools represent an early opportunity to ensure that health care personnel receive recommended vaccines.
Objective: To examine prematriculation vaccination requirements and related policies at selected health professional schools in the United States and compare requirements with current ACIP recommendations.
Design: Cross-sectional study using an Internet-based survey.
Setting: Medical and baccalaureate nursing schools in the United States and its territories.
Participants: Deans of accredited medical schools granting MD (n = 130) and DO (n = 26) degrees and of baccalaureate nursing programs (n = 603).
Measurements: Proportion of MD-granting and DO-granting schools and baccalaureate nursing programs that require that entering students receive vaccines recommended by the ACIP for health care personnel.
Results: 563 schools (75%) responded. More than 90% of all school types required measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B vaccines for entering students; varicella vaccination also was commonly required. Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccination was required by 66%, 70%, and 75% of nursing, MD-granting, and DO-granting schools, respectively. Nursing and DO-granting schools (31% and 45%, respectively) were less likely than MD-granting schools (78%) to offer students influenza vaccines free of charge.
Limitations: Estimates were conservative, because schools that reported that they did not require proof of immunity for a given vaccine were considered not to require that vaccine. Estimates also were restricted to schools that train physicians and nurses.
Conclusion: The majority of schools now require most ACIP-recommended vaccines for students. Medical and nursing schools should adopt policies on student vaccination and serologic testing that conform to ACIP recommendations and should encourage annual influenza vaccination by offering influenza vaccination to students at no cost.
Primary Funding Source: None.