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01-08-2010 | Infectious disease | Article

Greater promotion of flu vaccination needed among vulnerable groups

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: More needs to be done to increase awareness of the need for seasonal and H1N1 (swine flu) influenza vaccinations among vulnerable groups in the USA, say researchers.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices makes recommendations on the routine administration of vaccines in the USA, explain Jürgen Maurer (RAND Corporation, Arlington Virginia) and team.

Its aims are to reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases, increase the safe use of vaccines, and alert providers and the public about target groups for vaccination.

However, Maurer and colleagues explain that "to date, there are no nationally representative data on the awareness of federal influenza vaccination recommendations among targeted population groups, or on the role of health care providers in informing the public about these recommendations."

To address this, the team analyzed data from a survey of a nationally representative sample of US adults conducted in March 2010.

The researchers identified all 3594 adults for whom seasonal influenza vaccination was recommended, such as those aged 50 years and older, individuals with high-risk health conditions (such as asthma, chronic lung disease, and heart disease), pregnant women, health care workers, and those in contact with young children aged less than 5 years.

They also identified all 1467 adults for whom the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination was recommended, such as those aged 18-24 years, individuals aged 18-64 years with a high-risk condition, pregnant women, health care workers, and those in close contact with infants aged less than 6 months.

The team found that just 32.6% of respondents covered by the federal vaccination recommendation for seasonal influenza vaccination were aware of their recommendation status.

Interactions with health care providers were associated with increased awareness. Indeed, 39.3% of recommended adults who had recently visited a health care provider were aware of their seasonal influenza vaccination recommendation status compared with 18.0% of recommended adults who had not recently visited a health care provider.

Regarding 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination, only 29.5% of recommended adults were aware that they were in the initial target group for H1N1 vaccination. Awareness was again higher among recommended adults who had recently visited a health care provider, at 32.2%, compared with those who had not, at 21.9%.

Writing in the American Journal of Infection Control, Maurer and team conclude: "Despite comprehensive media coverage in the wake of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, awareness of federal influenza vaccination recommendations among specifically recommended adults was low."

They add: "More comprehensive health marketing campaigns may be required to increase individuals' awareness of government vaccination recommendations and to promote the use of vaccines among recommended persons to reduce vaccine-preventable morbidity and mortality."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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