The 2009-2010 influenza pandemic: effects on pandemic and seasonal vaccine uptake and lessons learned for seasonal vaccination campaigns.Vaccine. 2010 Sep 07; 28 Suppl 4:D3-13.V
Individual and national/cultural differences were apparent in response to the 2009-2010 influenza pandemic. Overall pandemic influenza immunization rates were low across all nations, including among healthcare workers. Among the reasons for the low coverage rates may have been a lack of concern about the individual risk of influenza, which may translate into a lack of willingness or urgency to be vaccinated, particularly if there is mistrust of information provided by public health or governmental authorities. Intuitively, a link between willingness to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza and against pandemic influenza exists, given the similarities in decision-making for this infection. As such, the public is likely to share common concerns regarding pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccination, particularly in the areas of vaccine safety and side effects, and personal risk. Given the public's perception of the low level of virulence of the recent pandemic influenza virus, there is concern that the perception of a lack of personal risk of infection and risk of vaccine side effects could adversely affect seasonal vaccine uptake. While governments are more often concerned about public anxiety and panic, as well as absenteeism of healthcare and other essential workers during a pandemic, convincing the public of the threat posed by pandemic or seasonal influenza is often the more difficult, and underappreciated task. Thus, appropriate, timely, and data-driven health information are very important issues in increasing influenza vaccine coverage, perhaps even more so in western societies where trust in government and public health reports may be lower than in other countries. This article explores what has been learned about cross-cultural responses to pandemic influenza, and seeks to apply those lessons to seasonal influenza immunization programs.