Low hepatitis B vaccine uptake among surgical residents in Cameroon

Abstract Background Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is one of the most serious occupational hazards faced by healthcare workers. Surgical personnel are particularly at risk. HBV infection is preventable by vaccination, but no previous study has assessed HBV vaccination coverage among healthcare workers in Cameroon. We assessed knowledge of risk factors of HBV infection, awareness of HBV vaccine, and vaccination status of surgical residents in Cameroon. Methods A structured pretested questionnaire was administered to 49 of the 70 surgical residents in Cameroon during the 2011–2012 academic year. Results Since the beginning of their residency program, 28 (57.1%) had had at least one accidental exposure to blood, with a median of 2 (range 1 to 25) exposures. Most of them had a good knowledge of risk factors for HBV infection. Although 98.0% (n = 48) were aware of the HBV vaccine, and 89.8% (n = 44) knew that they were at high risk of infection, only 24.5% (n = 12) had received a full course of at least three doses of the vaccine. In addition, only 33.3% (4/12) underwent post-vaccination testing to confirm a good immunological response (and thus effective protection against HBV infection). Among the 53.1% (n = 28) who had never had any dose of HBV vaccine, the main reasons for not being vaccinated were lack of time (38.5%), lack of money to pay for vaccine (23.1%), and lack of sufficient information on the vaccine (19.2%). Only 20.4% (n = 10) had been sensitized by their training institutions about the importance of HBV vaccination. Conclusion There is a low HBV vaccine uptake among surgical residents in Cameroon. As part of occupational safety measures, complete HBV vaccination should be strongly recommended and offered to surgical trainees before the beginning of their training program.