Health care professionals (HCPs) working in pediatric and perinatal settings have a strong influence on parental vaccine decision making. Furthermore, HCPs' motivations behind vaccine acceptance are associated with their likelihood of recommending vaccines to their patients. Understanding these motivations in the context of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign may aid in the development of interventions that improve pediatric practitioners' vaccine confidence and prescription. We aimed at studying the motivations affecting COVID-19 vaccination behavior among a sample of vaccinated Italian HCPs working in pediatric settings. A sample (n = 162) of HCPs completed an online self-reported survey exploring motivations behind getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Emotions of HCPs at the moment of COVID-19 vaccination injection were also recorded to collect data about the main feelings connected to the vaccination decision-making process. Data were collected between 19 March 2021 and 21 April 2021. The most effective motivational incentives were the beliefs that vaccination helped protect vulnerable members of the community (97.5% agreement), could protect one's own health (93.7%), health authorities could be trusted (58.7%), and the vaccine had been rigorously tested (53.8%). Actual personal exposure to COVID was less important (reported importance agreement 16-24%), and the influence of news and social media was still lower (4-6%). Differences between physicians' and other HCPs' ratings were also found. Finally, emotional status at vaccination showed high ratings for positive emotions surrounding the vaccination act. This study provided additional evidence about the multifaceted motivations behind COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and showed the potential of understanding the psychosocial roots of vaccine behaviors for shaping public communication campaigns. The highly emotionally charged response obtained underscores the importance of strengthening the community feeling among HCPs.
Keywords: COVID-19; applied psychology; healthcare professionals; pediatric healthcare workers; vaccine acceptance; vaccine hesitancy.