Background Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all Australian health care workers (HCWs) including those working in primary health care. There is limited published data on coverage, workplace provision, attitudes and personal barriers to influenza vaccination amongst primary health care staff. The aim of this study was to contribute to the limited literature base in this important area by investigating these issues in the primary health care setting in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Methods A postal survey was sent to general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) from inner city, semi-urban and rural areas of NSW, Australia. There were 139 responses in total (response rate 36%) from 79 GPs (response rate 30%) and 60 PNs (response rate 46%). Results Reported influenza vaccination coverage in both 2007 and 2008 was greater than 70%, with GPs reporting higher coverage than PNs in both years. The main barriers identified were lack of awareness of vaccination recommendations for general practice staff and concern about adverse effects from the vaccine. Conclusions Rates of influenza vaccination coverage reported in this study were higher than in previous studies of hospital and institutional HCWs, though it is possible that the study design may have contributed to these higher results. Nevertheless, these findings highlight that more needs to be done to understand barriers to vaccination in this group, to inform the development of appropriate strategies to increase vaccination coverage in primary health care staff, with a special focus on PNs. 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.