Maternal knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding gastroenteritis and rotavirus vaccine before implementing vaccination program: Which key messages in light of a new immunization program?
In July 2010, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended the systematic administration of rotavirus vaccines for all infants in Canada. According to the Erickson and De Wals framework, multiple factors need to be evaluated before implementing such a decision, including the study of the acceptability of this vaccine by the general population. A cross-sectional survey was conducted from February 10 to February 18, 2011, at the Sherbrooke University Hospital Center in the province of Quebec. A questionnaire, based upon the Health Belief Model (HBM) and theoretical planned action, was self-administered to pregnant or early post-partum women. The variables collected included socio-demographic data, past experience with gastroenteritis, cues to vaccination and HBM dimensions. The associations between questionnaire variables and vaccination intention were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses. Of the 343 respondents, only 29% had already heard about rotavirus vaccination and among these, the intention of vaccination was 74%. In multivariate analysis, having a perception of infant vulnerability to gastroenteritis (OR=2.3, 95% CI 1.3-4.0) and having no other child at home (OR=2.3, 95% CI 1.3-4.2) were factors positively associated with a higher intention of vaccination, contrary to having already heard about the rotavirus vaccine in the media (OR=0.5, 95% CI 0.2-0.9). The three cues independently associated with intention of vaccination were the reimbursement of the vaccine (OR=3.0, 95% CI 1.6-5.7), its recommendation by a doctor (OR=21.2, 95% CI 5.8-75.9) and its protection against the most severe forms of gastroenteritis (OR=4.4, 95% CI 1.4-13.6). To improve the success of this new vaccination program, several key messages should be integrated in the information made available to the general population: (1) rotavirus gastroenteritis is a mandatory infection for every child <5 years; (2) the vaccine is reimbursed and included in the provincial vaccination program; and (3) the vaccine protects against the worst forms of gastroenteritis. Finally, support should be offered to physicians as they play a key role in public acceptance of new vaccines.