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Assessing parents’ knowledge and attitudes towards seasonal influenza vaccination of children before and after a seasonal influenza vaccination effectiveness study in low-income urban and rural Kenya, 2010–2011

Prisca Adhiambo Oria1*, Geoffrey Arunga1, Emmaculate Lebo1, Joshua M Wong1, Gideon Emukule1, Philip Muthoka3, Nancy Otieno1, David Mutonga3, Robert F Breiman1 and Mark A Katz12

Author Affiliations

1 Kenya Medical Research Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KEMRI/CDC), Nairobi, Kenya

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

3 Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:391  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-391

Published: 25 April 2013



Influenza vaccine is rarely used in Kenya, and little is known about attitudes towards the vaccine. From June-September 2010, free seasonal influenza vaccine was offered to children between 6 months and 10 years old in two Population-Based Infectious Disease Surveillance (PBIDS) sites. This survey assessed attitudes about influenza, uptake of the vaccine and experiences with childhood influenza vaccination.


We administered a questionnaire and held focus group discussions with parents of children of enrollment age in the two sites before and after first year of the vaccine campaign. For pre-vaccination focus group discussions, we randomly selected mothers and fathers who had an eligible child from the PBIDS database to participate. For the post-vaccination focus group discussions we stratified parents whose children were eligible for vaccination into fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups.


Overall, 5284 and 5755 people completed pre and post-vaccination questionnaires, respectively, in Kibera and Lwak. From pre-vaccination questionnaire results, among parents who were planning on vaccinating their children, 2219 (77.6%) in Kibera and 1780 (89.6%) in Lwak said the main reason was to protect the children from seasonal influenza. In the pre-vaccination discussions, no parent had heard of the seasonal influenza vaccine. At the end of the vaccine campaign, of 18,652 eligible children, 5,817 (31.2%) were fully vaccinated, 2,073 (11.1%) were partially vaccinated and, 10,762 (57.7%) were not vaccinated. In focus group discussions, parents who declined vaccine were concerned about vaccine safety or believed seasonal influenza illness was not severe enough to warrant vaccination. Parents who declined the vaccine were mainly too busy [251(25%) in Kibera and 95 (10.5%) in Lwak], or their child was away during the vaccination period [199(19.8%) in Kibera; 94(10.4%) in Lwak].


If influenza vaccine were to be introduced more broadly in Kenya, effective health messaging will be needed on vaccine side effects and frequency and potential severity of influenza infection.

Seasonal influenza; Vaccination; Attitude; Parent; Children; Low-income; Kenya