Original Research

Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of nursing students regarding vaccines

Mohamed H. Suleman, Saien Govender, Euphemia M. Mhlongo, Keshena Naidoo
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 1| a5825 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5825 | © 2024 Mohamed H. Suleman, Saien Govender, Euphemia M. Mhlongo, Keshena Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2023 | Published: 31 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mohamed H. Suleman, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Durban, South Africa
Saien Govender, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Durban, South Africa
Euphemia M. Mhlongo, Department of Nursing, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Keshena Naidoo, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Final-year nursing students are actively involved in the delivery of public immunisation programmes as part of workplace-based learning, and require adequate knowledge, clinical skills, and attitudes regarding vaccines. This study investigated the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions regarding vaccines of final year nursing students at a South African University.

Methods: This cross-sectional study, through the use of an online survey questionnaire, assessed the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions regarding vaccines and the Expanded Programme of Immunization of final-year nursing students registered at a South African University during the 2021–2022 academic year.

Results: There were 68 participants enrolled in the study (85% response rate). Participants displayed good knowledge regarding vaccines (average score of 52.54/70 ± 5.01 standard deviation [s.d.]), and overall positive perceptions of their training on vaccines and its safety. Knowledge gaps were identified in the mechanisms through which vaccines confer immunity in the human body and the cold chain requirements for the storage of vaccines. Of concern was the prevalent misconception among 78% of participants that vaccines are not effective.

Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that final year nursing students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa have good knowledge regarding vaccines. However, an improved understanding of the mechanism of vaccines will aid nursing students to confront and address misperceptions by clients thereby reducing improving vaccine uptake. Curriculum planners should also consider the inclusion of communication strategies to address vaccine hesitancy.

Contribution: The study contributes to data on nurse education regarding vaccines in the African context, and identifies areas to improve vaccine uptake.


Keywords

attitudes; immunisation; knowledge; nursing education; perceptions; vaccines

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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