Determinants of Flu Vaccine Uptake Among the General Population in Saudi Arabia: A Study Based on the Health Belief Model

Cureus. 2023 Jul 2;15(7):e41277. doi: 10.7759/cureus.41277. eCollection 2023 Jul.


Background and objective Recently, influenza has emerged as a significant public health concern worldwide, including in Saudi Arabia. Vaccination against the flu is widely recognized as a crucial preventive measure to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with the virus. However, the uptake of flu vaccines among the general population in Saudi Arabia still remains low. In light of this, this study aimed to examine the determinants of influenza vaccine uptake in Saudi Arabia by using the Health Belief Model (HBM). Methods This cross-sectional study was conducted among adults living in all regions of Saudi Arabia by using an online self-administered questionnaire based on the HBM. The questionnaire inquired about demographics, knowledge about influenza, knowledge about vaccines, and beliefs/barriers. It was distributed via social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram. IBM SPSS Statistics software version 29 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY) was used for statistical analyses, and both the Chi-square test and logic regression analyses were applied to determine associations between explanatory and response variables, with the level of significance set at p<0.05. Results This study enrolled a total of 1040 participants, and the majority were Saudi nationals (96.9%). Of note, 66.2% of the participants were males, and the rest were females. Most of the participants were employed by governmental institutions (42.0%), had bachelor's degrees (58.4%), had never worked in the health sector (70.2%), and earned above 10,000 Saudi riyals per month (62.1%). Over half (55.7%) of participants had taken the flu vaccine at the time of this study. Working in the healthcare sector was associated with increased flu vaccine uptake [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 3.84, p<0.001]. The likelihood of getting the flu vaccines was greater among men (aOR: 1.38, p=0.027), and obesity was associated with lower flu vaccine uptake (aOR: 0.29, p=0.034). Having contact with people with flu, having had flu in the past, and experiencing severe flu complications (aOR: 4.71, p=0.029; aOR: 0.13, p=0.006; and aOR: 0.29, p=0.033, respectively) were significantly associated with the flu vaccine uptake among our study participants. Perceived potential risks of the flu vaccine were also associated with taking the flu vaccine (aOR: 0.213, p=0.042). There was a significant association between seeing an advertisement for the flu vaccine and the likelihood of taking the vaccine (aOR: 5.488, p=0.042). Conclusion This study found that certain sociodemographic factors are associated with flu vaccine uptake. These factors included contact with flu-infected individuals, past experiences with flu, perceived risks, and exposure to flu vaccine advertisements. Improving healthcare accessibility, conducting awareness campaigns, and implementing workplace initiatives are recommended to address the issues related to flu vaccine uptake.

Keywords: determinants; flu vaccine uptake; health belief model; public health; saudi arabia.