Aims: To explore attitudes to influenza immunisation and rates of uptake among staff working in acute hospitals in the UK. Method: Among 6302 responders (54% of those mailed), 19% had taken up influenza immunisation during winter 2002/3. Vaccination was well tolerated, with a low prevalence of side effects (13%) and associated time off work (2%). The majority of subjects who accepted vaccination (66%) were most strongly influenced by the personal benefits of protection against influenza. Prevention of sickness absence and protection of patients were the prime motivation for only 10% and 7% of subjects respectively. Among 3967 who declined vaccination, the most common primary de-motivators were concern about safety (31%) and efficacy (28%). Twenty two per cent were most strongly deterred by lack of time to attend for vaccination. Free text answers indicated that 37% were resistant to uptake because of a perceived low ratio of personal benefit to adverse effects. Subjects said they would be persuaded to take up vaccination in future by easier access (36%), more information about personal benefit/risk (34%), and more information about effects on staff absence (24%). Conclusions: These findings indicate that the uptake of influenza immunisation among UK health care workers remains low. There is some scope for increasing uptake by improving accessibility and encouragement from professional peers. However, our results suggest that perception of small personal benefit in relation to risk mitigates importantly against higher uptake of routine annual influenza vaccination by health care workers. Thus, resource might better be allocated to ensuring efficient targeted immunisation in epidemic years. Although the prevention of infection in patients and sickness absence in staff were not strong motivators for health care workers in this study, this might change if more supporting evidence became available.
- health personnel
- influenza vaccines
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