Knowledge about vaccines and vaccination in older people: Results of a national survey by the Italian Society for Gerontology & Geriatrics

Fiona Ecarnot, Claudio Pedone, Matteo Cesari, Stefania Maggi, Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is wide variation among physicians in the level of knowledge regarding vaccines and vaccination. We sought to compare the level of vaccine knowledge between qualified specialists and postgraduate residents. Methods: A questionnaire designed ad hoc by a consensus group was circulated to the Directors of 51 geriatrics internship programs in Italy. It investigated demographics, information sources, knowledge about influenza, pneumonococcal and herpes zoster vaccines and target groups. The proportion of correct responders was compared between residents and qualified specialists, and between best (top quartile) and worst (bottom quartile) performers. Results: A total of 459 questionnaires were analyzed; 245 (53%) were females; 253 (55%) were qualified specialists, 206 (45%) were residents. Mean age was 40.3 (SD: 12.8) years, almost 60% worked in acute care wards. On average, 33% of patients asked for information about vaccination. Residents answered significantly better on 7 out of 18 questions, and numerically albeit non-statistically higher correct response rates on a further 8 questions. There were significantly more men among the poor performers (p < 0.001), and significantly more residents among the best performers (p < 0.001). Overall, the rates of correct answers were low, with >50% of correct responses achieved on only 5 out of 18 questions (27.8%); for 2 questions, <20% responded correctly. Conclusions: Postgraduate residents in training have an overall better level of knowledge of vaccines, vaccination indications and practices than qualified specialists. This study provides avenues to develop targeted interventions to ensure health care providers are up to date and providing accurate information to patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1540
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Knowledge
  • Questionnaire
  • Residents
  • Specialists
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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