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Nicola Laurie, MPH 2012


Influenza remains a significant public health issue with annual impacts on healthcare services, healthcare workers and patients. Pandemic influenza can not only introduce significant challenges for healthcare services but also result in serious social and economic disruption. Consequently, pandemic preparedness plans acknowledge the importance of vaccination in reducing morbidity and mortality within the general population and frontline healthcare workers particularly.

Due to the acknowledged low rates of influenza vaccination uptake among healthcare workers nationally and internationally, ascertaining the factors that influence their decision-making regarding vaccination uptake may allow appropriately tailored strategies to be developed that are responsive to the concerns and understandings of healthcare workers.

This qualitative study investigates the impact of the 2009 influenza pandemic and the availability of a pandemic vaccine on healthcare workers based in primary care. Focus groups were completed with practice nurses and general practitioners in primary care practice in Christchurch, New Zealand. Transcripts were thematically analysed from a post-positivist perspective. Free-text responses, regarding intention to accept the 2009 pandemic vaccine, provided by practice nurses and general practitioners participating in the Canterbury Influenza Sero-Survey, were also analysed to supplement the focus group data. A range of themes were identified reflecting the perceptions and constructions of practice nurses and general practitioners working during the 2009/2010 pandemic period in relation to both the pandemic and the pandemic vaccine. Although these findings cannot be generalised a number of recommendations are proposed focusing on healthcare workers' vaccination uptake rates, primary care practice, pandemic preparedness planning and opportunities to engage in further research.

Supervisors: Dr Cheryl Brunton and Dr Ben Hudson

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