BACKGROUND: In response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, health care workers (HCWs) were offered immunization with H1N1 vaccine in addition to seasonal flu vaccine. Previously, low rates of influenza vaccine uptake in HCWs have been attributed to concerns about vaccine clinical effectiveness, side effects and access difficulties. AIMS: To explore H1N1 influenza vaccination of HCWs in London during 2009-10 and examine reasons for vaccine refusal. METHODS: An online questionnaire survey of doctors and nurses working in two primary care trust (PCT) areas and one acute trust area was carried out in London. RESULTS: Only 59% of the 221 respondents had been immunized with H1N1 influenza vaccine and 43% with seasonal influenza vaccine. The commonest reasons for remaining unvaccinated were 'side effects', 'swine flu not severe' and 'concerns about clinical effectiveness of the vaccine'. Respondents who had been vaccinated that season gave positive feedback on their experience. CONCLUSIONS: While uptake among HCWs was greater for the pandemic vaccine than is usually seen with seasonal influenza vaccine, this survey suggests that in this area of London during the 2009 pandemic, HCWs refused H1N1 vaccination due to concerns about clinical effectiveness, side effects and perceptions that H1N1 infection was not generally severe. We found no evidence to suggest poor access was a barrier to H1N1 vaccination of HCWs. If good access is maintained, the key barrier to improving seasonal flu vaccine uptake lies with informing the personal risk assessment made by the HCW.
Occupational Medicine 07/2012; 62(8). DOI:10.1093/occmed/kqs098 · 1.45 Impact Factor