COVID-19: Vaccination Side Effects and Sick Leave in Frontline Healthcare-Workers-A Web-Based Survey in Germany

Background: The COVID-19 vaccination has caused uncertainty among employees and employers regarding vaccination reactions and incapacitation. At the time of our study, three vaccines are licensed in Germany to combat the COVID-19 pandemic (BioNTech/Pfizer (Comirnaty), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), and Moderna (Spikevax). We aim to assess how often and to what extent frontline healthcare workers had vaccination reactions after the first and second vaccination. The main focus is on the amount of sick leave after the vaccinations. 

Methods: We create a web-based online questionnaire and deliver it to 270 medical directors in emergency medical services all over Germany. They are asked to make the questionnaire public to employees in their area of responsibility. To assess the association between independent variables and adverse effects of vaccination, we use log-binomial regression to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for dichotomous outcomes (sick leave).

Results: A total of 3909 individuals participate in the survey for the first vaccination, of whom 3657 (94%) also provide data on the second vaccination. Compared to the first vaccination, mRNA-related vaccine reactions are more intense after the second vaccination, while vaccination reactions are less intense for vector vaccines.

Conclusion: Most vaccination reactions are physiological (local or systemic). Our results can help to anticipate the extent to which personnel will be unable to work after vaccination. Even among vaccinated HCWs, there seems to be some skepticism about future vaccinations. Therefore, continuous education and training should be provided to all professionals, especially regarding vaccination boosters. Our results contribute to a better understanding and can therefore support the control of the pandemic.


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