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Effective health messages may yield vaccine compliance among ER workers
Date:6/17/2008

Emergency room workers will be the first line of defense in the event of a disease pandemic and will be forced to deal with the chaos that inevitably comes with treating thousands of sick and dying. In order to protect themselves and allow them to care for the public, these first responders need to be fully prepared by getting available vaccines now.

But how can public health officials convince ER workers to get a vaccine at a time when no threat is imminent, and they are worried about the vaccine's side effects?

In a new study published this month in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, researchers from the Center for Preparedness Research and Planning and the Department of Public Health at Temple University found that by addressing ER workers' fears and concerns, they could craft persuasive messages to convince ER workers to get vaccinated.

"In the wake of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the government tried to implement a program to vaccinate 500,000 healthcare workers against the smallpox virus, which theoretically could be used in a bioterror attack," said lead researcher Sarah Bass, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health at Temple's College of Health Professions. "But it was left to each state to run the program, and each did so differently. As a result, less than 40,000 ER workers nationwide were vaccinated."

Bass noted that study participants were reluctant to get this particular vaccine because it is a live form of the virus and they weren't sure of the effects it would have on their health, if they could spread it to others, or if it would mean missed time from work.

Using a unique method called "perceptual mapping," researchers found that today, with no threat of an attack, ER workers would only be inclined to get vaccinated if they first got a recommendation from a trusted source, such as another hospital or healthcare professional. But when the threat of an outbreak was imminent, participants
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Contact: Renee Cree
renee.cree@temple.edu
215-707-1583
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert

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