Objective: To explore obstetric health care workers' attitudes and beliefs regarding influenza vaccination in pregnancy.
Methods: A survey consisting of 16 multiple-choice questions was administered to nurses, medical and nursing assistants, receptionists, and clinical administrators in obstetric settings. Survey questions addressed general knowledge of influenza and recommendations for vaccination during pregnancy, as well as personal beliefs about the acceptability of the vaccine in the pregnant population. The study was conducted at two sites, Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI, and Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Variables were compared by Fisher exact test.
Results: Two hundred sixty-seven completed surveys were available for analysis, with a completion rate of 85%. Almost one third of health care workers surveyed do not believe that vaccines are a safe and effective way to decrease infections (31%) and a minority believe that vaccines are safe in pregnancy (36%). Just over half of health care workers know that pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from the flu (56.6%). Only 46% were able to correctly identify influenza symptoms, and only 65% would recommend influenza vaccination to a pregnant woman if indicated. A small percentage would be willing to give an avian influenza vaccine to pregnant women during a pandemic if it had not been tested in pregnancy (12.3%).
Conclusion: Many obstetric health care workers lack knowledge regarding the safety and importance of influenza vaccination during pregnancy. Misinformed or inadequately informed health care workers may represent a barrier to influenza vaccine coverage of pregnant women. This lack of knowledge among the health care workforce takes on added importance in the setting of the H1N1 2009 swine-origin influenza pandemic.
Level of evidence: III.