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Vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers


Distrust of vaccination manifests itself not only in the context of new waves of Covid-19, but also in relation to the monkeypox pandemic, and healthcare workers are not exempt. Research by scientists at the SYRI National Institute has shown that only 8.8 percent of Czech healthcare workers who participated in the survey agreed to be vaccinated against monkeypox. Moreover, as sources of information they mainly use digital news portals and social media, not scientific journals. SYRI scientists have therefore recommended that the state invest in dedicated educational campaigns.

In the Czech Republic, the first case of monkeypox, renamed mpox, was confirmed by experts in May 2022. Mpox is a relatively mild viral infection that spread rapidly around the world in 2022. Tens of thousands of cases have been identified worldwide.

SYRI researchers surveyed interest in vaccination in a cohort of 341 health workers. “Our study made alarming findings about the level of knowledge related to mpox. Moreover, the results revealed vaccine hesitancy among Czech healthcare workers,” said Andrea Pokorná of the SYRI National Institute.

Only 8.8% of the 341 healthcare workers who participated in the survey agreed with vaccination against mpox, while 44.9% rejected it and 46.3% were hesitant about the vaccine. Digital news portals (47.5%) and social media (25.8%) were among the most used sources of information about mpox, while scientific journals were among the least common sources (5.6%), with the remainder comprising sources less significant still.

“The study revealed discrepancies between participants’ subjectively perceived knowledge and their factual knowledge, which suggests a lack of information on the part of healthcare professionals,” said Pokorná. “This is a big problem given the fact that healthcare professionals should provide information to the general public, so improving its health literacy.” Similar studies addressing the vaccination against Covid-19 revealed an alarming lack of knowledge, both among healthcare workers and the general public.

The research team recommends that the state should invest in dedicated educational campaigns addressing gaps in healthcare workers’ knowledge on topics such as the availability of effective vaccines and the treatment of monkeypox.

Hesitancy among Czech healthcare workers concerning vaccination against monkeypox reveals a fundamental problem recently identified by the Czech Minister for Health. Vlastimil Válek fears that lack of trust in vaccination could lead to the re-emergence of certain serious diseases. In some EU countries, vaccination coverage is below 70%. Although it is still around 95% in the Czech Republic, it is decreasing in the case of some diseases.

The road to increased vaccination confidence will be long and hard, especially in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. At an international expert conference on vaccination held under the Czech Presidency of the EU in November 2022, the Minister said: “Some diseases have not completely disappeared. We have only brought them under control by vaccination. If the high interest in compulsory vaccination of children stops, the problem may return with great force.”

Researchers at the SYRI National Institute wish to address reasons for vaccine hesitancy among the so-called lay population. They will also focus on sources of potential misinformation in this context, especially those current at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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prof. PhDr. Andrea Pokorná Ph.D.

Position: Senior researcher
+420 778 543 693