In 2009, the World Health Organisation declared swine flu (H1N1) as a pandemic worldwide. Accordingly, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of General Practitioners and Irish Health Service Executive recommended vaccination against H1N1 for all pregnant women after 14 weeks of gestation, and healthcare workers.
The objectives of this study were to assess participant knowledge of H1N1, estimate uptake of the H1N1 vaccine and investigation of the advice given by healthcare professionals to pregnant women. In a cross-sectional survey, self-administered open and closed response questionnaires were distributed to pregnant women (n=500) attending Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), and to staff (n=300) at CUMH. Almost 70% (n=350) of pregnant women and 49.3% of staff (n=148) participated in the survey.
The survey indicated almost all respondents had prior knowledge of H1N1 (99% of staff, and 99.5% of patients), and received information from various source (eg, the media, the internet and healthcare providers). Among pregnant women, 54.7% had been, or were planning to be, vaccinated compared to 39.8% of staff. In pregnant women, 39.7% were advised by family members while 42.3% and 48.6% were advised by Consultants and/or General Practitioners respectively. 62.9% of pregnant women were concerned about the effects of taking the vaccine. Among vaccinated patients, 20.3% (n=35) believed they had suffered side-effects attributable to the vaccine, compared to 44.8% (n=22) of vaccinated staff. Participant awareness of H1N1 shows the success of the Public Health campaigns. Analogous Healthcare advice was deemed to be an important influencing factor in vaccination uptake. It was demonstrable that participants were concerned about the effects of the vaccine in their pregnancy.
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