Influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare workers (HCW) is insufficient despite health authority recommendations in many countries. Numerous vaccination campaigns encouraging HCW to be vaccinated have met with resistance. We reviewed published influenza vaccination programs in healthcare settings to understand the reasons for their success and failure, as well as the attitudes and beliefs of HCW. Relevant articles published up to June 2004 were identified in the MEDLINE/Pubmed database. Thirty-two studies performed between 1985 and 2002 reported vaccination rates of 2.1-82%. Vaccination campaigns including easy access to free vaccine and an educational program tended to obtain the highest uptake, particularly in the USA. Yet, even this type of campaign was not always successful. Two main barriers to satisfactory vaccine uptake were consistently reported: (1) misperception of influenza, its risks, the role of HCW in its transmission to patients, and the importance and risks of vaccination (2) lack of (or perceived lack of) conveniently available vaccine. To overcome these barriers and increase uptake, vaccination campaigns must be carefully designed and implemented taking account of the specific needs at each healthcare institution.