Pre-deployment vaccinations and perception of risk among US military personnel

Suzanne Polak, Mark S. Riddle, David R. Tribble, Adam W. Armstrong, Manal Mostafa, Chad K. Porter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Vaccination programs have significantly reduced the incidence of numerous infectious diseases; however, public attitudes toward immunization oftentimes remain contentious. Concerns over vaccine safety and effectiveness, compounded with reduced perceived risk of disease, influence decision making and frequently override public health recommendations. Although vaccinations are compulsory for US military personnel, their concerns mirror the general population, resulting in sub-optimal coverage. Results: Demographics of the 1,757 respondents: 83.3% male, 71.1% Army, 87.5% enlisted, mean age of 29.2 years (standard deviation: 8.3). The majority (89.3%) reported receiving all pre-deployment vaccines; 17.1% stated they would decline if given the opportunity. Factors associated with an increased likelihood of declining vaccines included a perception that the vaccines were not safe [odds ratio (OR): 3.7; p < 0.001] and rarely/never believing information from the military command (OR: 2.2; p < 0.001). Those with a perceived risk for the diseases targeted by the vaccines were less likely to decline (OR: 0.6; p < 0.001). Discussion: In US military personnel, negative perceptions of pre-deployment vaccines exist. These attitudes appear to be associated with negative perceptions of vaccine safety and low perceived disease risk. Targeted interventions, focusing on the drivers of negative perceptions toward vaccines, and accounting for the source of the educational material, may influence attitudes and improve vaccination perceptions. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was completed by a convenience sample of US military personnel deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding regions. Questions solicited demographic information and assessed agreement with statements in an attempt to identify factors associated with declining pre-deployment vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-767
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Vaccines
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Attitudes
  • Compulsory
  • Military
  • Perception
  • Vaccine


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