Objective: To investigate the Australian public’s expectations, concerns and willingness to accept vaccination with the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccine.
Design, setting and participants: A computer-assisted telephone interview survey was conducted between 20 August and 11 September 2009 by trained professional interviewers to study issues relating to vaccine uptake and perceived safety. The sample comprised 1155 randomly selected representative adults who had participated in a 2007 national study exploring knowledge and perceptions of pandemic influenza.
Main outcome measures: Likely acceptance of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination, factors associated with acceptance, and respondents’ willingness to share Australian vaccine with neighbouring developing countries.
Results: Of 1155 possible participants, 830 (72%) were successfully interviewed. Twenty per cent of the study group (169/830) reported that they had developed influenza-like symptoms during the 2009 pandemic period. Most respondents (645/830, 78%) considered pandemic (H1N1) 2009 to be a mild disease, and 211/830 (25%) regarded themselves as being at increased risk of infection. Willingness to accept pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination was high (556/830, 67%) but was significantly lower than when pandemic vaccination uptake was investigated in 2007 (88%; P < 0.0001). Respondents who had already been vaccinated against seasonal influenza and those who perceived pandemic (H1N1) 2009 to be severe were significantly more willing to accept vaccination. Most respondents (793/822, 96%) were willing to share surplus vaccine with developing countries in our region.
Conclusion: Although two-thirds of Australian adults surveyed were willing to accept pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination, and most supported sharing vaccine with developing countries, there is a need for accessible information on vaccine safety for those who are undecided about vaccination.
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