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Study examines factors that predict influenza vaccination status in older adults

U.S. adults who are older, who do not believe that the flu vaccine is detrimental, whose doctor or family recommended getting a flu shot, and who believe that influenza is a health risk are more likely to get a flu shot each year, concludes a new study.

Researchers, supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10864), examined correlates of repeat flu shots over a 3-year period among 253 predominantly low-income men and women aged 50 and older. Almost half of the participants (49 percent) had been vaccinated in each of the 3 years, 22 percent had been vaccinated once or twice over the 3 years, and 29 percent reported no vaccinations over the 3-year period.

Patients who were vaccinated in all 3 years chose to be vaccinated against influenza (75 percent), because they had the flu before (13 percent), or because a doctor or other medical professional recommended it (9 percent). Patients who reported being vaccinated in all 3 years were most frequently vaccinated at a regular doctor's visit (67 percent). About 19 percent received a flu shot at a clinic in the community. The most common reasons patients chose not to get vaccinated in all 3 years were previous bad or adverse reaction to the flu vaccine (26.5 percent), belief that they were unlikely to get influenza (25 percent), and fear of vaccine side effects (23.5 percent).

More details are in "What predicts influenza vaccination status in older Americans over several years?" by Melissa Tabbarah, Ph.D., M.P.H., Richard Kent Zimmerman, M.D., M.P.H., Mary Patricia Nowalk, Ph.D., and others, in the August 2005 Journal of the American Geriatric Society 53, pp. 1354-1359.

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