Objective: This study investigated the immunisation knowledge, attitudes and practices among health professionals in two regional Area Health Services of NSW with low and high immunisation rates. It also compared these factors between the areas and between the health professional groups.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was posted in 2006 to health professionals, located within the North Coast and Hunter New England Area Health Services, whose practice could include immunisation. This included general practitioners (GPs), practice nurses, community nurses, hospital nurses and midwives.
Results: Out of 926 surveys sent, 434 were returned (47%). The great majority of the health professionals (97%) believed that vaccines were safe, effective and necessary. However, in approximately one-third of respondents, there were specific concerns about additives, immune system overload and the number of vaccines. Significantly more health professionals in the North Coast area believed that additives in vaccines may be harmful and that adding more vaccines to the schedule would make immunisation too complex. Among GPs, over half felt uncomfortable about giving more than two injections at the one visit.
Conclusions: Health professionals in this study had overall confidence in vaccines but had specific concerns about the number of vaccines given to children and vaccine content. These unfounded concerns may reduce parental confidence in immunisation.
Implications: There is value in governments and immunisation support workers continuing their efforts to maintain up-to-date knowledge among health professionals and support the delivery of appropriate and targeted information to address concerns about vaccines.