BACKGROUND: The South African Department of Health (DOH) publishes annual guidelines identifying priority groups, including immunosuppressed individuals and healthcare workers (HCW), for influenza vaccination and treatment. How these guidelines have impacted HCW and their patients, particularly those infected with HIV, remains unknown.
METHODS: We aimed to describe the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding influenza and the vaccine among South African HCW. Surveys were distributed by two local non-governmental organizations in public health clinics and hospitals in 21 districts/municipalities (5 of 9 provinces).
RESULTS: There were 1164 respondents; median age 41 years; 978/1126 (87%) female; 801/1122 (71%) nurses. One-third (34%) of HCW reported getting influenza vaccine 2013/2014 and most (94%) recommended influenza vaccine to patients infected with HIV. Ability to get vaccine free of charge (aOR 1.69; 95% CI 1.21-2.37) and having received influenza government training (aOR 1.50; 95% CI 1.04-2.15) were significantly associated with self-reported vaccination in 2013/2014. Self-reported 2013/2014 vaccination (aOR 3.76; 95% CI 1.28-11.03) and availability of influenza vaccine during the healthcare visit (aOR 2.56; 95% CI 1.18-5.57) were significantly associated with recommending influenza vaccine to patients infected with HIV/AIDS.
CONCLUSION: Only one-third of participants were vaccinated in 2013-2014 but those who were vaccinated were more likely to recommend vaccination to their patients. Free and close access to influenza vaccine were associated with a higher likelihood of getting vaccinated in 2013/2014. HCW who reported getting the influenza vaccine themselves, had vaccine to offer during the patient consult and were familiar with DOH guidelines/trainings were more likely to recommend vaccine to HIV-infected patients.