Background Recent cases of laboratory-acquired vaccinia virus (VV) infection highlight the need for laboratory safety.
Aims To determine laboratory worker adherence to the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices smallpox vaccination recommendations, assess potential barriers to vaccination and determine the influence of training on laboratory worker attitudes.
Methods Ninety-two laboratory workers in Pennsylvania were contacted and asked to complete an online survey about VV usage; 45 responded.
Results Eighty-seven per cent had received a smallpox vaccination in their lifetime; 73% received vaccination in the past 10 years. More workers had been given training regarding the potential risks, versus the potential benefits of vaccination, and most perceived that adverse outcomes were more likely to occur following vaccination versus accidental infection.
Conclusions The results of this study suggest that the main barrier to vaccination may be fear associated with possible vaccine adverse effects and a willingness to risk accidental infection rather than be vaccinated. More information and training about the potential benefits of vaccination, as well as the potential adverse outcomes associated with accidental infection, is therefore warranted.
Keywords: Knowledge attitudes and practices, smallpox vaccine, vaccinia virus, WR-vaccinia