Welders and other workers who are exposed to metal fumes should be offered the PPV23 vaccination in an effort to prevent serious lung disease, a review of evidence in Occupational Medicine has argued.
The study says that welders often die from certain types of pneumonia and therefore they should be offered the vaccination.
“Many employers are unaware that exposure to welding fume can cause pneumonia. Although fatal cases are rare, they can occur,” said Keith Palmer, professor of occupational medicine at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton and lead author of the review.
“Companies need to ensure that anyone undertaking welding work or that is exposed to metal fumes is offered the vaccination. They also need to advise workers on how to reduce their exposure to the fumes as much as possible and encourage them to not smoke,” he added.
The review highlighted that welders were up to six times more likely than other workers to suffer from pneumococcal pneumonia.
But, as this is a disease that usually affects the very young, elderly or those with impaired immunity, many welders and healthcare professionals may be unaware of the increased risks and the need for the vaccination.
The Department of Health has also recently published guidance that states welders should be given the vaccination.
The review highlighted the importance of ensuring that those exposed were given appropriate protective equipment and followed other safety advice, such as minimising exposure.