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Healthcare workers (HCW) have been identified as index cases in disease outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) in hospitals.


We investigated whether Danish paediatric HCW were protected against selected serious VPD.


We included 90% of staff members from two paediatric departments. All 555 HCW (496 women) supplied a blood sample for serology and filled in a questionnaire. Antibodies were measured with enzyme immunoassay against measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), varicella zoster, pertussis toxin and diphtheria toxin.


Protective levels of IgG were found for measles (90.3%), mumps (86.5%), rubella (92.3%), varicella (98.6%) and diphtheria (80.5%). We found seropositivity for all three MMR components in 421 (75.9%) HCW, lowest in those younger than 36 years (63.3%). Only 28 (5%) HCW had measurable IgG to pertussis. HCW with self-reported immunity defined as previous infection or vaccination, had protective levels of IgG against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella in 87.4–98.8% of cases, not significantly higher than in those not reporting immunity. Previous history of disease had a high positive predictive value (PPV) of 96.8–98.8%. The PPV for previous vaccination ranged from 82.5% to 90.3%. In contrast, negative predictive values of self-reported history of disease and vaccination were remarkably low for all diseases.


The immunity gaps found primarily in young HCW indicate a need for a screening and vaccination strategy for this group. Considering the poor correlation between self-reported immunity and seropositivity, efforts should be made to check HCW’s immune status in order to identify those who would benefit from vaccination.


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