Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: Seasonal influenza is a major public health problem associated with increased morbidity and mortality in healthcare settings. This communicable disease can be spread to and from healthcare workers. Accordingly, the immunization of healthcare workers against influenza is an essential preventive measure to protect them and ensure patient safety. In Lebanon, there is a clear deficiency in immunization awareness and practices. This study aims to examine the vaccination coverage rates, and to understand the knowledge and attitudes regarding seasonal influenza vaccination among healthcare workers in Lebanon.
Methods: The institutional review boards approved this cross-sectional study conducted between February and March 2019 among a sample of Lebanese healthcare workers. Following an informative introduction by PharmD students, participants signed the informed consent and filled a self-administered questionnaire that assesses vaccination status, knowledge, and attitude towards influenza vaccine. Information was collected from community pharmacists in Beirut, Saida, Tyr, Nabatieh, and neighboring towns, as well as from nurses, interns, residents, and physicians working at Al-Zahraa University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. Participants were asked about seasonal influenza, its symptoms and complications, its high-risk groups, and its vaccine. They were also asked about their willingness to be vaccinated and offer the vaccine, and their barriers to immunization. A pilot study was carried out to ensure the clarity of the survey. Descriptive analysis was used for both categorical and continuous variables. A Pearson Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests were used to assess significant values. Logistic regression was also used to assess factors associated with the knowledge of influenza vaccine as well as the acceptance of taking the vaccine.
Results: A total of 316 subjects participated in the study. Of those, 52.5 percent were females. The majority were between 25-29 years of age (33.9 percent) and between 18-24 years of age (17.7 percent). Of the total sample, 181 (57.3 percent) reported having received the vaccine previously, and only 81 (25.6 percent) were vaccinated this season. However, 261 (83.7 percent) were willing to recommend the vaccine to their patients. The most common barriers of immunization included being in good health, questioning the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, and fear of injections. Physicians attained the highest score of general knowledge regarding influenza (68.4 percent), followed by residents (60.0 percent), and then pharmacists (58.8 percent). Those who worked in obstetrics, pediatrics, and adult intensive care unit departments had a better knowledge of the vaccine recommendations. Doctorate holders were 8.44 times more likely to have better knowledge about influenza compared to other degrees (P equals 0.004). Residents were 5.01 times more likely to take the vaccine than nurses, interns, physicians, and pharmacists. Additionally, the odds of accepting the vaccine is almost 5.30 times greater for those who do not pay for the vaccine compared to those who pay for it (P equals 0.045).
Conclusion: This study reveals that the vaccination rate during the 2018-2019 season was relatively low among healthcare workers. Lack of knowledge on influenza vaccine is a barrier to immunization. Therefore, efforts and initiatives to fill the gaps and minimize the barriers faced by healthcare workers must be carried out. Education campaigns and seminars will help emphasize compliance with the recommendations and subsequently improve rates of vaccination among healthcare workers and enhance the vaccine uptake by their patients.