Open Access Research article

Cross-sectional survey of older peoples' views related to influenza vaccine uptake

Punam Mangtani1*, Elizabeth Breeze2, Sue Stirling1, Smita Hanciles1, Sari Kovats3 and Astrid Fletcher1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

2 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK

3 Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:249  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-249

Published: 11 October 2006

Abstract

Background

The population's views concerning influenza vaccine are important in maintaining high uptake of a vaccine that is required yearly to be effective. Little is also known about the views of the more vulnerable older population over the age of 74 years.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey of community dwelling people aged 75 years and over wh, previous participant was conducted using a postal questionnaire. Responses were analysed by vaccine uptake records and by socio-demographic and medical factors.

Results

85% of men and 75% of women were vaccinated against influenza in the previous year. Over 80% reported being influenced by a recommendation by a health care worker. The most common reason reported for non uptake was good health (44%), or illness considered to be due to the vaccine (25%). An exploration of the crude associations with socio-economic status suggested there may be some differences in the population with these two main reasons. 81% of people reporting good health lived in owner occupied housing with central heating vs. 63% who did not state this as a reason (p = 0.04), whereas people reporting ill health due to the vaccine was associated with poorer social circumstances. 11% lived in the least deprived neighbourhood compared to 36% who did not state this as a reason (p = 0.05) and were less likely to be currently married than those who did not state this as a reason (25% vs 48% p = 0.05).

Conclusion

Vaccine uptake was high, but non uptake was still noted in 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged over 74 years. Around 70% reported they would not have the vaccine in the following year. The divergent reasons for non-uptake, and the positive influence from a health care worker, suggests further uptake will require education and encouragement from a health care worker tailored towards the different views for not having influenza vaccination. Non-uptake of influenza vaccine because people viewed themselves as in good health may explain the modest socio-economic differentials in influenza vaccine uptake in elderly people noted elsewhere. Reporting of ill-health due to the vaccine may be associated with a different, poorer background.