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Some factors affecting the decision on non-mandatory vaccination in an influenza pandemic: comparison of pandemic (H1N1) and seasonal influenza vaccination

Background: The 2009 influenza pandemic caused by the influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus was accompanied by a debate about whether or not to be vaccinated. The percentage of people who decided to be vaccinated was lower than in the case of seasonal influenza vaccination. We therefore compared factors influencing the decision on pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccination.

Method: Slovene inhabitants aged 18 and over (N=1383) completed an internet based survey on socio-demographic and health behaviour-related characteristics, personality traits, and characteristics of decision-making. Two stepwise logistic regression analyses were performed, one with an uptake of the pandemic influenza vaccine and the other with an uptake of the seasonal influenza vaccine as a dependent variable.

Results: In addition to common predictors of a decision in favour of the two vaccinations (age, gender, chronic illnesses, working in healthcare, trust in media news and vaccination side-effects in someone close), deciding in favour of vaccination against the pandemic virus was related to living with children and thoroughness in decision-making. It was also related to being vaccinated against seasonal influenza, trust in pandemic vaccine safety and professional information in favour of vaccination, and the decision of someone close.

Conclusions: In the face of the pandemic threat and lack of information, people behaved as they had in previous similar situations and according to the behaviour of people close to them and information from trusted sources. Concern for children and decision-making characteristics also became important. These factors should be considered in future crisis interventions.

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