Knowledge, attitudes, and practices about influenza illness and vaccination: a cross-sectional survey in two South African communities

Karen K. Wong, Adam L. Cohen, Shane A. Norris, Neil A. Martinson, Claire von Mollendorf, Stefano Tempia, Sibongile Walaza, Shabir A. Madhi, Meredith L. McMorrow, Ebrahim Variava, Katlego M. Motlhaoleng, Cheryl Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Understanding knowledge and sentiment toward influenza and vaccination is important for effective health messages and prevention strategies. We aimed to characterize knowledge, attitudes, and practices surrounding influenza illness and vaccination in two South African communities and explore reasons for vaccine hesitancy. Methods: Household primary caregivers in Soweto and Klerksdorp townships were interviewed about knowledge of influenza and intention to receive an influenza vaccine using a structured questionnaire. Factors associated with unwillingness to receive vaccine were explored using multivariable regression. Results: We interviewed representatives of 973 households in Soweto and 1,442 in Klerksdorp. Most respondents in Soweto (692, 71%) and Klerksdorp (1247, 87%) thought weather or cold caused influenza. While most would get a free influenza vaccine, those unwilling to receive vaccine had concerns about efficacy (Soweto: 19%; Klerksdorp: 19%) and safety (Soweto: 17%; Klerksdorp: 10%). In Soweto, females (aRR 2·0, 95% CI 1·3–3·2) and those with higher household income (aRR 1·8, 95% CI 1·2–2·7) were less willing to receive vaccine. In Klerksdorp, more educated respondents (aRR 1·6, 95% CI 1·1–2·4) were less willing to receive vaccine; households reporting an HIV-positive member were more willing to receive vaccine (aRR 0·3, 95% CI 0·1–0·8). Conclusions: Although findings suggest most community participants were amenable to influenza vaccination, knowledge gaps were present. Emphasizing the importance of influenza as a health problem and addressing vaccine safety and efficacy concerns may improve uptake. Populations less amenable to vaccination, including those with higher education and income, may benefit from targeted messaging efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalInfluenza and other Respiratory Viruses
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Influenza
  • South Africa
  • survey
  • vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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