In December 2020, a survey was conducted to assess the vaccination motivation in Category I areas (staff in medical facilities with particularly high exposure risk) of the Klinikum Klagenfurt am Woerthersee. The survey was based on the vaccination strategy for Austria devised by the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK) and the recommendations of the National Vaccination Committee for prioritisation with regard to the planned COVID-19 vaccinations in the five KABEG houses.
Klinikum Klagenfurt offers the range of services that a university clinic would, with exception of transplant surgery. It is the teaching hospital of the Medical Universities of Graz, Vienna and Innsbruck and is in certified in many areas (eg, ISO 9001, EMAS, etc). The third largest hospital in Austria has 1344 beds and a further 126 beds for the chronically ill. In total, more than 4,000 people work in the clinic.
One of the key priorities from a medical-technical point of view is for individuals who are both necessary workers, but also have a high occupational risk of catching COVID-19, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. At Klinikum Klagenfurt, the following areas are included in the core workforce: the central emergency room, areas of medical care for COVID-19 patients, testing staff, employees from areas in which activities relevant to infection are carried out carried out, (eg, swabs, staff in laboratories with processing of COVID-19 samples) and the intensive care units.
As part of this survey, 40 percent of the employees in the nuclear power plant, and 80 percent of the total workforce across all five houses at KABEG (6321), were willing to be vaccinated.
At the beginning of January 2021, the employer started an information and education campaign about COVID-19 vaccinations – expert interviews via social and electronic media, information brochures, an information hotline and so on.
Stages of vaccination
In phase 0, the employees in departments where there were chronically ill patients were vaccinated (delivery of the vaccine doses were carried out in the same way as the residents and employees in nursing homes). Phase 1 started in the KABEG hospitals on 19th January 2021, with the vaccination of category I employees. 819 employees in the Klagenfurt Clinic Employees were vaccinated (69% female employees and 31% male employees), and the vaccination campaign was accompanied by a questionnaire on the personal motivation of the employees to get vaccinated. The survey method was decided to be cross-sectional study. In empirical research, one speaks of a cross-sectional design when an empirical examination is carried out. In a cross-sectional study, the approaches and opinions of participants of different ages at a fixed point in time are evaluated and captured. This is how social snapshots of currently valid facts, opinions or behaviour are able to arise.
The aim of the survey was to determine the personal motivation of the employees of the Klinikum Klagenfurt for taking the vaccine, as well as the level of knowledge of vaccinated people with regard to the newly developed COVID-19 vaccine. The target group were all employees of the Klinikum Klagenfurt who were vaccinated at that time, and from different occupational groups of category I. The recorded data was automatically entered into the corresponding databases, and graphics and crosstabs were created. The answers from the questionnaire were then stored in-house and evaluated by the head of the health sciences department. The current survey is subject to data protection guidelines.
Confidence in the vaccination strategy
When asked whether the employees have confidence in the current vaccination strategy for Austria, 80.5% of those questioned (649 employees) answered yes; 2.7% of respondents with no, and 16.8% of those surveyed (138 employees) were non-committal. To the question, ‘Have you taken the recommended standard vaccinations of the Austrian vaccination plan already?’, 90.6% (742 employees) of the respondents answered with yes. This statement suggests that healthcare workers are generally very willing to be vaccinated.
When asked whether the vaccinated employees made use of the appropriate vaccination recommendations when traveling, 87.7% of those surveyed (718 employees) indicated that they would comply with these recommendations. The question, ‘Which of these sources of information do you trust most for immunisation information?’ was answered as follows: 48.5% (397 employees) of those surveyed answered that they trusted their doctor as the most important source of information. 20% (164 employees) of the respondents said that they trusted the Information from the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK) for information that would influence their judgements. 10.8% (88 MA) of those surveyed stated that their colleagues in their work environment were an important source of information for forming an opinion. With only 1.3%, the immediate superior was not relevant as a source of information for the formation of their judgment.
When asked how employees became aware of the current COVID-19 vaccination, the following sources could be named: 24.4% of those surveyed stated that they had become aware of the COVID-19 vaccination through their immediate supervisor. Likewise 24.4% were informed by the information campaign of the Federal Ministry (BMSGPK) which drew attention to the vaccination.19. 5% of the employees surveyed became aware of the COVID-19 vaccination through the media and 11.11% heard about it through conversation with their colleagues.
The question of how the employer provided information about the COVID-19 vaccination, and also how the vaccine was administered was evaluated by the vaccinated employees, leading to the following result: 32.8% of those questioned (269 employees) felt that they had been very well-informed about the COVID-19 vaccination by their employer, 40.0% (328 employees) rated that they had been well-informed, and 26.3% felt that the vaccination had been insufficiently explained.
Regain protection from disease and freedom
To the question, ‘You have decided to take the newly developed COVID-19 vaccination. What influenced you to make this decision?’, the respondents gave the following answers for what they considered were the most important factors, and multiple answers were possible. 51.8% of those surveyed (424 employees) stated that they had decided in favour of the newly developed COVID-19 vaccine based on the information provided by the national experts. 37.2% stated information from their working environment was the reason for their decision, and 33.2% of those surveyed decided on the newly developed COVID-19 vaccination after looking into it themselves. 17.1% of those surveyed made their decision based on on the information provided by the doctor.
When asked about the personal reasons for the COVID-19 vaccination (multiple answers were possible). 60.7% of those surveyed (497 employees) say they work in a hospital and are therefore at increased risk of coming into contact with the virus. They also stated that they would be able to protect themselves personally by taking the vaccine. 56.3% (461 MA) of those surveyed said they took their social responsibilities seriously, as a high vaccine coverage is needed to eradicate COVID-19. 52.4% (429 employees) stated that they use the vaccine to protect themselves from the disease, they also said that some people were generally in favour of vaccines. 48% (393 MA) of the respondents said that they have seen the progress of the disease first-hand, and therefore do not want to get sick. 44.9% (367 employees) of the employees surveyed would like to regain a little freedom and see the vaccination as an opportunity to regain it. 42% of those surveyed said they would take the vaccine despite their personal willingness, in order to protect their patients.
When asked to assess the information and documentation form (focus on content, comprehensibility and comprehensibility of the questions and the points…) of the Federal Ministry for vaccination, 48.4 % (396 employees) rated the information and documentation sheets as good, 22.1% as very good, and 29.4% of the employees surveyed rated it these as satisfactory to unsatisfactory
Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccinations at the Klinikum Klagenfurt am Wörthersee was successful with a very good result, and a high level of satisfaction among the vaccinated employees at the outset. The vaccinated employees feel sufficiently informed about the way in which vaccinations are administered.
Statements in the survey indicate a generally high willingness to vaccinate among employees in the healthcare system, and a high sense of responsibility for their personal environment and their proximity to patients. The employees also exhibited some personal reasons for wanting to get vaccinated: through the help of the COVID-19 vaccination, they would be able to regain some sort of personal freedom.
In conclusion, it can be noted the importance of a good education, sufficient information for those affected and, due to the limited vaccination capacities, a good, well thought-out vaccination strategy. In the next few weeks, the remaining employees of category 1 and the other categories will be vaccinated.