This project is led by Nancy Waite and coordinated by Richard Violette.

Master’s student: Gokul Raj Pullagura

Full project name: Ontario community pharmacists’ knowledge, attitude and behaviour towards influenza vaccine hesitancy – An exploratory study

Background

influenza vaccine hesitancyEven though the influenza vaccine is free and easily accessible to Ontarians, vaccination rates in the province have been suboptimal.

Vaccine hesitancy — the voluntary refusal or delay in vaccination despite a vaccine’s availability — is a growing concern. Vaccine hesitancy not only increases the risk of a flu outbreak in unvaccinated people, but also leads to a deficit in herd immunity. If most people in a community have been vaccinated, protection is conferred to the small number of people who cannot be immunized for medical reasons or for whom the vaccine was not effective.

Little research has been conducted on vaccine hesitancy in community pharmacies and on the perspectives of community pharmacists who encounter patients that are hesitant about vaccination.

Although tools have been developed to help healthcare professionals persuade patients to be vaccinated, their relevance and effectiveness in community pharmacies have not been explored.

Study purpose

This study is helping to elucidate the factors that affect influenza vaccine hesitancy in community pharmacies. Project researchers are conducting surveys and interviews to explore influenza vaccine hesitancy from a community pharmacist’s perspective.

Based on the study’s findings, researchers will develop recommendations to improve engagement between pharmacists and their patients to help reduce influenza vaccine hesitancy at community pharmacies.

Research goals

The study will focus on the following main objectives:

  1. To understand vaccine hesitancy from the perspective of community pharmacists.
  2. To assess techniques used by community pharmacists to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
  3. To identify the characteristics of interventions to reduce vaccine hesitancy — such as professional training, tools, and promotional and communication materials — tailored to the requirements of community pharmacists.

Methods

Researchers are seeking a comprehensive understanding of the perspective of Ontario community pharmacists on influenza vaccine hesitancy using a two-step approach:

Surveys: Practising community pharmacists will be invited to participate in a survey that explores their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours toward influenza vaccine hesitancy.

Interviews: Pharmacists identified through the survey will be invited to participate in an interview where researchers gain greater insight into their day-to-day experiences with those hesitating to be vaccinated and the challenges they face in addressing their patient’s concerns.

Implications

  • Little is known about the nature of influenza vaccine hesitancy in community pharmacies. The results from this study will help to better understand influenza vaccine hesitancy from the perspective of Ontario community pharmacists.
  • This research will provide evidence to inform development of tools and interventions tailored to community pharmacists to assist their engagement with Ontarians hesitating to be vaccinated, potentially increasing provincial vaccination rates.