Although influenza vaccination benefits both health care workers and their patients, participation by staff in vaccination programs is disappointingly low. Understanding health care worker perceptions and needs is essential for improving rates of vaccination.
A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to all staff at a Canadian cancer center. Information was sought on previous frequency of participation in influenza vaccination, as well as motivations, perceptions, and preferences.
Three hundred sixty-three (70%) of 515 cancer center staff members responded. Twenty-two percent of staff were vaccinated 4 or 5 times in the past 5 years and were primarily motivated by the desire to protect their own health (81%). Forty-nine percent participated 1 to 3 times in the past 5 years, and this group had diverse knowledge and vaccine-access needs. Twenty-nine percent received no vaccination in the previous 5 years because they believed the vaccine lacked efficacy (45%) or was harmful to health (19%). Moving from high to low levels of participation with influenza vaccination, the following trends were observed: increasing belief that vaccines cause illnesses or weaken the immune system, increasing belief that adverse effects of vaccination are underreported, and decreasing belief that vaccination programs are beneficial.
Cancer center staff perceptions about influenza vaccination differ according to the past frequency of vaccine uptake. Strategies for promoting vaccination should be guided by these differences.