Background:Hospitalizations due to 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus (H1N1) infection continued to be reported in Georgia during the winter of 2009-2010. On initial investigation, most patients were not vaccinated against H1N1, despite the vaccine being widely available by this time. Understanding the reasons these patients were not vaccinated will increase our knowledge of vaccination barriers and guide future influenza vaccination efforts.
Objectives: Determine the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of hospitalized patients and determine if barriers to 2009 H1N1 vaccination existed among them.
Methods: All Georgia residents hospitalized in Georgia from December 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010 with a positive laboratory test for H1N1 were contacted by telephone and asked to participate in a survey. Collected information included influenza vaccination status, knowledge and beliefs about influenza vaccines, demographics, and health information.
Results: One hundred and forty six (38%) of 367 individuals completed the survey.Overall, 15 (10%) patients were vaccinated against H1N1. Most (81%) patients had been seen by a doctor at least 3 times in the year prior to their hospitalization and only 41% discussed the H1N1 vaccine with their doctor. Overall, 55 patients talked to a doctor about the vaccine and 18 (33%) were either advised not to get the vaccine or were not given advice either way. Of the 111 (76%) patients with a health condition considered high risk for influenza complications, 47 (42%) were unaware they were in this risk group. The three most common reasons for not getting H1N1 vaccine were: thought it wasn’t needed, thought it was unavailable, and thought their medical condition was a contraindication.
Conclusions: Most patients were at high risk for complications of influenza, and few were vaccinated. Additional education and outreach by physicians and public health practitioners is necessary to better inform individuals about influenza vaccination, especially among those with high-risk medical conditions.