Immunization is one of the most effective public health measures to prevent disease, but vaccination rates in adult populations still remain below the targets. Patient and physician attitudes about vaccination are important for adult vaccination. The most important barriers to adult vaccination are misperceptions and low awareness of patients, and inadequate knowledge and negative attitudes of physicians. Many adults are unaware of which vaccinations they need and when they should receive them. People’s awareness about protecting their own health is also important in achieving the targeted level of adult immunization. The attitude and behavior of individuals are influenced by their health literacy, and limited health literacy may cause misperceptions and noncompliance. Nevertheless, several studies have shown that lack of recommendation by a physician was the main reason for not being vaccinated
In this regard, Dr Ozisik and colleagues conducted a survey at the Internal Medicine Outpatient Clinics of Hacettepe University Hospital, Ankara, Turkey. 512 adult patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire on their perceptions and attitudes about vaccination and their vaccination status.
Eighty percent of the study population thought that adults should be vaccinated, while only 36.1% of the patients stated that vaccination was ever recommended to them in their adult life. Forty-eight percent of the patients stated that they were vaccinated at least once in their adulthood. The most commonly received vaccine was tetanus vaccine in general, while influenza vaccine was the leading vaccine among patients with chronic medical conditions. While 71.4% of the patients to whom vaccination was recommended received the vaccine, 34.9% of the patients received a vaccine without any recommendation.
This study demonstrated that there are knowledge gaps and misperceptions that might lead to low VCRs in an adult population attending general internal medicine outpatient clinics. Although the low VCRs are disappointing, the perceptions and the attitudes of the adult patients responding to this survey were basically positive and indeed showed that there is room for improvement. The findings of local surveys such as the current one can be used to improve adult vaccination strategies on a national basis.
Read the article ‘Perceptions and Attitudes of Patients About Adult Vaccination and Their Vaccination Status: Still a Long Way to Go?’ here.