Influenza Vaccination Coverage, Motivators for, and Barriers to Influenza Vaccination among Healthcare Workers in Wroclaw, Poland

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) both recommend that healthcare workers (HCWs) should receive influenza vaccination annually because they care for persons at high risk of influenza-related complications [,]. Vaccination of HCWs is an important strategy for reducing the transmission of influenza from healthcare staff to their patients, and therefore reducing patient morbidity and mortality [,], increasing patient safety and reducing work absenteeism among healthcare workers [,].

Compliance with recommendations on influenza vaccination is known to be low. In general, the rate of influenza vaccination among HCWs rarely exceeds 40% [,]. In European countries, the median of vaccination coverage rate (VCR) among HCWs remains at around 25% with a wide variation among countries (for example, from 5% for Poland to >50% for the UK) []. Since influenza vaccine uptake among HCWs still remains low, more information is needed about barriers to influenza vaccination in HCWs. Refusals to vaccinate can be attributed to uncertainty about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine [,]. A large number of diverse reasons for low vaccine uptake by HCWs have been addressed in the literature [,,,]. Understanding these barriers is important as it reveals the complexity of the situation and is essential for increasing the levels of compliance with vaccination recommendations.

Results of a literature review suggest that there were no exhaustive and comprehensive data on attitudes towards influenza vaccine uptake by HCWs in Poland. Only two surveys have been conducted—the first was carried out 10 years ago in Warsaw (the capital city of Poland) and revealed the VCR for hospital personnel to be at approximately 20% []; the second one was a national cross-sectional survey with participation by 500 physicians involved in the qualification and administration of childhood vaccines (81% were pediatricians, and the remaining 19% were family doctors), conducted from June to July 2017, with a result of 62% of seasonal influenza VCR []. In addition, the VCR of the general population in Poland is extremely low (3.5%) [].

While influenza vaccination has variable and moderate efficacy [], given the current epidemiological situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems appropriate to make every effort to reduce the burden of influenza virus-induced infections on the health system and help protect limited healthcare resources. Due to very high variability of VCR and its low level among HCWs in Poland, there is an urgent need for extending the database, especially with local analyses. A cross-sectional observational survey was conducted in Wroclaw (one of the major cities of Poland), between January and March 2020. The objective of this study was to analyze vaccination rates and motivators for, and barriers to, influenza vaccination among the participating HCWs. The results may prove useful for designing immunization campaigns to tailor strategies to reach specific groups.

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