Aim To determine the hepatitis B, tuberculosis (TB), varicella and rubella immunisation status of dental practice workers in Kent.Method A cross-sectional survey using a) a dental practice questionnaire sent to all 275 registered dental practices in Kent in February 2005, to determine the numbers of staff employed and their job titles, and b) a confidential personal health questionnaire for every staff member employed by each practice, to determine past history of infections and immunisation history.Results Two hundred out of 257 (78%) dental practices took part in the survey, and 1,415 staff (76% of known participants) returned completed personal health questionnaires. Three hundred and eighty-four out of 395 dentists (97%) indicated previous immunisation against hepatitis B. The corresponding percentages for other occupational groups were dental hygienists (94%), nurses (89%), dental therapists (75%), and other non-clinical staff (65%). 1,197 (85%) of participants reported previous chicken pox and/or shingles; 1,208 (85%) gave a history of previous immunisation against TB; and 823 (58%) had either had rubella or were immunised against rubella. Male participants were less likely to have had rubella immunisation.Conclusions The study has demonstrated the variations in knowledge about personal immunity status amongst dental practice staff for some infectious diseases. Improvement in establishing personal immunity status of individual dental care workers and provision of a vaccination programme could be facilitated. This preventive measure could be arranged through occupational health providers.
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