Influenza virus vaccine compliance among pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic (pre-vaccine era) in Israel and future intention to uptake BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
Saleh, O.A.; Halperin, O.
Vaccine 40(13): 2099-2106
The influenza virus vaccine, used worldwide as an annual preventive measure, is especially recommended for at-risk populations. Older adults and pregnant women are therefore offered the flu shot free of charge in Israel. The Israel Ministry of Health's rationale for giving the influenza vaccine to pregnant women is to avoid serious complications that could harm both mother and foetus. In Israel, the winter of 2020/2021 was marked by a third surge of COVID-19, raising the risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the level of fear among the population. The influenza vaccine protects individuals from the flu and thus helps prevent an additional burden on medical centres treating COVID-19 patients. The aim of the present study was to assess compliance of pregnant and postpartum women to influenza vaccine uptake during winter 20/21 period. A survey questionnaire was distributed to examine factors predicting women's attitudes toward the influenza vaccine. Questionnaire items based on the Heath Belief Model examined participants' perceptions regarding influenza and the vaccine. The questionnaire also evaluated participants' hypothetical willingness to get immunized with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine upon its arrival in Israel. The results showed a higher prevalence of influenza vaccine uptake among Jewish women than Arab women, while level of trust in healthcare providers was stronger among Arab participants than among Jewish participants. The findings indicate that the pregnant and postpartum community needs better information dissemination and education regarding the importance of the influenza vaccine. Decisions regarding uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine upon future availability were found to be unrelated to influenza vaccine perceptions. The results call for raising public awareness regarding influenza immunization in addition to offering the vaccine at routine pregnancy follow-up appointments.