Seasonal influenza vaccination rates among European countries remain low despite the World Health Organization's recommendations to vaccinate high-risk groups. Healthcare worker recommendations are strong predictors of increased vaccination uptake in the population. Therefore, this study aimed to analyze seasonal influenza vaccination recommendation behavior among pharmacists towards high-risk groups including patients, coworkers, and pharmacists' family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. This cross-sectional, questionnaire-based research was conducted in Switzerland during the flu season and sent to all members of the Swiss Pharmacist Association. In December 2020, 569 community pharmacists completed the online survey. The influenza vaccination recommendation rates for high-risk patients were 93.6% for the elderly, 70.7% for pregnant women, 65.2% for immunocompromised people, and 60.3% for patients with chronic diseases. Pharmacists tend to recommend influenza immunization to patients more than to family members and colleagues. Holding a certification to administer immunization and personal influenza vaccine history were the main predictors for recommending influenza vaccination to patients, family members, and colleagues. Our results indicated that influenza vaccination recommendation rates in our whole sample of pharmacists, were higher for vaccinated and immunizing pharmacists. Ensuring high vaccinations rates and high ratio of immunizing pharmacists may be important in promoting seasonal influenza vaccination in the general population.
Keywords: chronic disease; elderly patients; healthcare worker; influenza; pharmacists; pregnancy; recommendations; vaccine; vaccine education.