In a recent study posted to the medRxiv* pre-print server, researchers performed a cross-sectional study to evaluate the outlook of healthcare workers (HCWs) of France and Belgium towards Monkeypox virus (MPXV) vaccination.
After two years of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, studies have not determined attitudes toward vaccination against a newly emerging pathogen, particularly in France, where the government mandated high vaccine coverage for HCWs. Nevertheless, it is certain that vaccine hesitancy affects HCWs and impacts their vaccination status.
Europe is the epicenter of the recent MPXV outbreak, with thousands of cases reported by August 2022. Reports have also pointed at cases among HCWs with no identified occupational exposure. Considering the high risk to HCWs, especially the staff working in high consequence infectious diseases units, Monkeypox patients-dedicated units, and outpatients sexual health clinics, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that they receive vaccination for Monkeypox despite the limited supply of vaccines.
About the study
In the present study, researchers administered an anonymous online survey Between 15 June 2022 and 8 August 2022 by snowball sampling in France and Belgium. They evaluated their attitudes toward Monkeypox vaccination and identified factors associated with this attitude. These factors covered demographic characteristics, 7Cs of vaccination readiness scale, belief in public health agencies, government policies, pharmaceutical companies, media, colleagues, and COVID-19 vaccine eagerness.
Among the 690 survey responders, 397 were HCWs, of which 260 were women. The mean age of HCWs was 59 years, 43.3 ± 12 years. The study findings revealed that in case of a specific recommendation for HCWs, 220 of 397 HCW respondents, corresponding to 55.4% of the total HCWs in the study, would accept vaccination.
Of these, 99 HCWs would get the vaccine as early as possible, and 121 would probably get vaccinated, i.e., 30.5% and 24.5% of the total 397 HCWs, respectively. The remaining 88 were undecided, 49 would probably not get the vaccine, and 40 were sure of not getting the vaccine. Of 177 HCWs who did not intend to get vaccinated for Monkeypox, 96 would have changed their decision if the MPXV epidemic had spread and affected the general population. In this scenario, 79.1 % of the HCWs agreed to accept the vaccine. Around 38% of HCWs declared they had received the smallpox vaccine; however, that did not impact their outlook toward the Monkeypox vaccine.
Complacency for MPXV is perhaps hindering vaccine uptake and acceptance in HCWs. Widespread public messages focused on mild infections mainly affecting men having sex with men (MSM) could have generated feelings of complacency in HCWs. Also, large-scale use of PPE during epidemics (like during the COVID-19 pandemic) might have given HCWs a sense of security. In Israel, there was a case of a physician who used protective-personal equipment (PPE) yet contracted MPXV infection, likely from contaminated bedding.
Therefore, even in the case of a specific recommendation, the Monkeypox vaccination acceptance rate observed in HCWs was not far from the acceptance rate in MSM in the Netherlands, highlighting the need to address the low perceived risk of occupational transmission. Furthermore, the study findings suggest that communicating potential professional exposure to Monkeypox in HCWs is urgently warranted.
medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.