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Vaccination of persons endangered at work

Representatives of many occupations may be exposed to dangerous pathogens due to their work. The exact sources of danger are identified by a risk assessment commissioned/prepared by the employer. Fortunately, you can proactively protect yourself against a number of dangers.

 

According to the laws in force in Estonia the employer is required to:

1) create as safe working conditions as possible for employees in work areas where there is a risk of contracting diseases;

2) ensure compliance with the safety requirements at the workplace;

3) ensure the immunisation and, if necessary, preventive treatment of the employees specified in clause 1 of this section;

4) allow the employee, in order to determine an infectious disease or carrier status, to undergo a medical examination or immunisation in the case of emergency aid, during work hours.

5) avoid the spread of pathogens when handling raw materials or finished goods;

6) take care of the disposal of infectious waste.

 

Who are endangered at work?

Healthcare workers – vaccination is recommended for:

  • medical professionals, students of faculties of medicine and healthcare, who come into contact with blood and blood components, should be vaccinated against viral hepatitis B;
  • employees of reception departments at the healthcare authorities and other employees who come into contact with sick people (including family physicians) should be vaccinated against influenza and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis;
  • (non-immune) employees of children’s departments and hematology-oncology departments should be vaccinated against measles, rubella, mumps and chickenpox;
  • social workers who deal with patients with risk behaviour should be vaccinated against viral hepatitis B.

 

Laboratory workers – vaccination is recommended for:

  • employees who handle infectious materials in microbiology and virology laboratories should be vaccinated against the vaccine-preventable infectious agents that are studied in those laboratories.

 

Employees of healthcare and rehabilitation institutions – vaccination is recommended for:

  • persons in contact with patients should be vaccinated against pneumococcal infection, viral hepatitis A or B, diphtheria and tetanus, and influenza during every season;
  • home care service providers should be vaccinated against viral hepatitis B and influenza.

As immunodeficient (or immunosuppressed patients) cannot be vaccinated with live attenuated vaccines, vaccination injections against measles, rubella, mumps, chickenpox and, in the case of employees over the age of 50 years, against herpes Zoster as well, are administered to employees of healthcare and rehabilitation institutions whop come into close contact with the aforementioned people.

 

Veterinary staff and animal and bird handlers – vaccination is recommended against:

  • tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine), rabies, influenza and other vaccine-avoidable infectious diseases in accordance with the results of the assessment of occupational risk of infection.

 

Social workers – vaccination is recommended for:

  • social workers exposed to adult clients should be vaccinated against influenza, social workers exposed to children and adolescents, should be vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap vaccine) and influenza.
  • In Estonia, it is recommended that social workers dealing with patients exhibiting risk behaviour in a healthcare institution be vaccinated against viral hepatitis B.

 

Teachers of kindergartens, schools and hobby groups - vaccination is recommended:

  • against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (Tdap vaccine), measles, rubella and mumps (MMR) (if corresponding antibodies are not present in the blood) and seasonal influenza;
  • against viral hepatitis A for kindergarten teachers and childcare providers.

 

Members of the Defence Forces and border guards – vaccination is recommended:

  • against tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine), viral hepatitis B, influenza and tick-borne encephalitis, and other vaccine-preventable infectious diseases based on an epidemiological risk assessment or indication. Those headed to external missions should be vaccinated according to the circumstances in the destination region.

 

Police employees and rescue workers – vaccination is recommended:

  • against viral hepatitis B, tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine) and influenza.

 

Employees of detention facilities – vaccination is recommended:

  • against viral hepatitis B, tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine), influenza, and on the basis of occupational risk assessment, also against other vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

 

Agricultural, horticultural and forestry workers (including apprentices) and hunters – vaccination is recommended:

  • agricultural and horticultural workers are recommended to get vaccinated against tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine), forestry workers and hunters are recommended to get vaccinated against tetanus, and in risk areas, also against rabies and tick-borne encephalitis.

 

Waste and waste water disposal workers – vaccination is recommended:

  • against viral hepatitis A and tetanus (Td vaccine) and, in other cases, in accordance with epidemiological indications.

 

Other employees at risk – it is recommended to vaccinate:

  • employees who conduct skin piercing procedures (tattoos, skin piercing, acupuncture, etc.) and beauty treatment service providers are recommended to get vaccinated against viral hepatitis B and tetanus (Td or Tdap vaccine) and employees working with the deceased should be vaccinated against viral hepatitis B;
  • catering staff against viral hepatitis A;
  • people living in regions with ticks or people who spend a lot of time there should be vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis (from the first year of age);s;
  • adults, whose families include pregnant women, children under 12 months of age, or who come into contact with a person suspected of having pertussis, should be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. This could be done irrespective of the time that has passed since the last relevant vaccination injection.

 

People who travel a lot for work and who, during their travels, may be exposed to pathogens, which may not be directly related to the nature of the work, are a completely separate risk group. For example, an office worker who has been to a region with contaminated drinking water may also contract viral hepatitis A.

 

Pursuant to the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act, an employer is obliged to ensure the immunisation of workers in areas where there is a risk of infection. Vaccination for mitigation of work-related biological hazards must be paid by the employer or compensated to the employee by the employer afterwards. If the employer does not organize the vaccination itself, it is worth to contact your family physician for the vaccination injections.