Background: The compliance of healthcare workers (HCW) with the yearly influenza vaccination campaigns is suboptimal. The reasons behind this low compliance are poorly defined. Actually, nosocomiaL transmission of the virus may cause high morbidity and mortality, especially among the immunocompromised, and vaccines are offered free of charge, but nonetheless, vaccination rates are low.
Aim of study: To study the reasons underlying this low vaccine uptake.
Methods: Anonymous questionnaires were randomly distributed to hospital staff at the Bnai-Zion Medical Center in Haifa. The questionnaires included demographics, knowledge and attitude regarding the influenza vaccine.
Results: Overall, 255 of the 275 distributed questionnaires were returned (117 nurses, 108 physicians and 30 others). Only 21% of those returning the questionnaires had been vaccinated in the fall of 2007. Vaccination rates among different professional sectors were not significantly different. The rate of vaccination was significantly higher in the division of pediatrics (45%) vs. the division of medicine (10%, p < 0.01). The vaccination rates correlated directly with knowledge: 11% among low-level, 16% in intermediate and 42% in those demonstrating the highest knowledge (p < 0.001). Of those who believed that the vaccine is efficacious, 33% were vaccinated, compared to only 14% among those who did not believe so (p < 0.001). Twenty-six percent of those who knew that their work constitutes a high risk condition were vaccinated vs. 9% of those who did not (p < 0.01). Higher vaccination rates (albeit low) were noted in those who believed that non-vaccination places their patients at a higher level of risk (27% vs. 14%, p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Knowledge and behavioral patterns may predict which HCW will be vaccinated. Higher levels of knowledge were associated with higher vaccination rates. Towards the goal of higher vaccination rates, we must assimilate knowledge and foster our obligation to our patients.