BACKGROUND Vaccination against pandemic influenza A/H1N1 is an effective strategy to mitigate the spread of the disease. While the vaccine is now available, social acceptance remains relatively uncertain in many societies. The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs, attitudes and practices associated with the intention to get vaccinated against the A/H1N1 virus among the general population in France. METHODS A representative sample of 1001 individuals (stratified random recruitment procedure, ages 16-90 years) was interviewed by telephone. The questionnaire included a variety of items associated with socio-demographic characteristics, risk perceptions, illness perceptions, political attitudes and worldviews as well as intention to get vaccinated. RESULTS More than 6 out of 10 of the respondents indicated that they planned to get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available. The same proportion of parents also reported the intention to vaccinate their children against the disease. In multiple regression analyses, socio-cognitive factors consistently predicting influenza A/H1N1 vaccination were: level of worry, risk perception and previous experience of vaccine against seasonal flu. CONCLUSIONS The factors found to predict vaccination intention and their distribution are assumed to be a consequence of the fact that people perceive the risk of swine flu to be similar to that of seasonal flu. As a result, in the absence of an increase of the risk perception of pandemic influenza A/H1N1, a very low level of actual vaccination is forecasted. Behavioural change would require that the risks and consequences of pandemic influenza A/H1N1 be perceived as highly different from seasonal flu.
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