Herrera-Restrepo O, Ghaswalla P, Davis K, Sweeney C, Davenport E, Andani A, Buck PO. What can Europe learn from HCP knowledge and attitudes towards hepatitis A vaccination in the US? Poster presented at the 14th European Public Health Virtual Conference 2021 (EPH); November 10, 2021.

BACKGROUND: An estimated >100 million new hepatitis A (hepA) infections occur annually worldwide. Centres for disease control and prevention reported 38795 hepA cases in the US since 2016, and 4475 outbreak-confirmed cases in Europe between 2016-2018. HepA outbreaks resulted mainly from person-to-person contact, especially among homeless, illegal drug users (IDU) and men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2020, we surveyed US health care providers (HCPs) to understand their knowledge and attitudes towards hepA vaccination in these populations at higher risk of infection and complications.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional, web-based survey of 400 HCPs (primary care providers, nurse practitioners, gastroenterologists, internal medicine and infectious disease specialists [IDs], emergency room physicians [ERs]) who had recommended and/or administered hepA vaccines to ≥19-year-olds.

RESULTS: 85% of 371 HCPs reported recommending hepA vaccine to homeless, 87% of 393 to IDU and 83% of 397 to MSM, although vaccination may not actually occur after recommendation. Results varied by specialty, 16% fewer ERs than IDs reported recommending the vaccine in these at-risk populations. Moreover, 64%, 75% and 71% of all (400) HCPs reported extremely important that homeless, IDU and MSM, respectively, get vaccinated for hepA, while 6%, 7% and 8% of all HCPs reported this as slightly, or not important. Reasons for not recommending hepA vaccine to homeless, IDU and MSM included: uncertainty on guidelines (reported by 22/56, 24/50 and 29/66 HCPs, respectively), and low risk of infection (reported by 20/56, 30/50 and 27/66 HCPs, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite recent hepA outbreaks and strengthened recommendations for vaccination in at-risk populations, knowledge gaps persist among US HCPs. This survey may motivate European countries to reinforce national hepA vaccination recommendations and, in parallel, consider efforts to raise vaccine awareness.

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