Vaccination Intent Trends Upward This Season While Disconnects Remain

In an ongoing effort to understand how the American public feels about influenza and influenza vaccination, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) commissioned its annual survey of adults. Results indicate increasing rates of vaccination intent, rising recommendations from healthcare professionals (HCPs), and evidence that some long-standing influenza misconceptions are weakening. However, misinformation about the need for annual vaccination prevails along with some remaining myths and misconceptions, representing an ongoing educational challenge.

While influenzas seasonal toll is unpredictable, more than 200,000 hospitalizations and between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths are typical in a "non-pandemic" year. Last season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded its vaccination recommendation to include universal annual vaccination for all Americans ages 6 months and older. Influenza vaccine supply is now abundant and vaccination venues have multiplied to include more pharmacies and non-traditional locations improving vaccination convenience for subsequent influenza seasons.

Key Findings

Interest in influenza vaccination continues to be high and on an upward trend

· Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) plan be vaccinated against influenza this season; up from 57 percent in 2010 and 49 percent in 2008*

o Highest vaccination intent in women (67 percent), adults age 55 64 (70 percent), adults age 65+ (74 percent), and people in the Northeast (70 percent)

*2008 data among those who had seen an HCP in past 12 months; 2010 and 2011 data among all respondents

Although the strains in this years and last years vaccines are the same, this does not appear to influence vaccination intent

· Nearly eight in 10 adults (79 percent) say that knowing the strains are the same this year does not change their intent to get vaccinated this year

· Only 4 percent of adults say that knowing the strains in this years vaccine are the same as last years makes them less interested in getting vaccinated this year

Of the minority of people (36 percent) who do not intend to be vaccinated against influenza this season, more than two-thirds (69 percent) could be motivated to change their minds

· 85 percent of adults age 18 34 who dont plan to be vaccinated against influenza this season could be motivated to change their minds

· More than half (54 percent) of adults overall and nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of adults age 18-34 who dont plan to be vaccinated against influenza this season say they could change their mind if they believed they might infect others who could become seriously ill

· According to the survey, there are several additional factors that could motivate those people who do not plan to get vaccinated this season, including:

o Seeing a family member or friend become very sick from the flu: 37 percent overall; 52 percent among 18-34 year-olds

o A recommendation from a healthcare provider: 34 percent overall; 44 percent among adults 65+

o Reassurance of safety: 31 percent overall; 42 percent among 18-34 year-olds

o Greater convenience: 24 percent overall; 42 percent among 18-34 year-olds

o Lower cost/free: 24 percent overall; 34 percent among 18-34 year olds

o A recommendation from an employer: 21 percent overall; 32 percent among 18-34 year-olds

o Less pain/no needles: 18 percent overall; 29 percent among 18-34 year-olds

Healthcare professionals particularly physicians are increasingly likely to recommend influenza vaccination; regional differences are apparent

· More than two-thirds of adults (68 percent) received a recommendation from a healthcare professional, up from 58 percent in 2010 and 38 percent in 2008**

· Adults in the Northeast are most likely to have received a recommendation from a healthcare professional last season (78 percent); other regions lag behind

· 58 percent of adults in the West received a recommendation from a healthcare professional last season

**2008 data among those who had seen an HCP in past 12 months

Adults are increasingly more likely to heed healthcare professional recommendation about influenza vaccination

· 60 percent were vaccinated as a result of a recommendation from a healthcare professional, significantly up from 44 percent in 2010

· People 65 and older were the most likely to act on recommendations (73 percent)

Although nearly three in four adults (72 percent) believe the influenza vaccine is recommended this year, slightly less than two in three (65 percent) believe annual influenza vaccination is necessary

· Women are significantly more aware of the need for annual vaccination than men (72 percent vs. 58 percent)

· Awareness of need for annual vaccination increases with age

o Almost three in four adults age 55-64 (72 percent) and adults age 65+ (74 percent) believe they need to be vaccinated each year

Perception of the need for annual influenza vaccination greatly increases likelihood of vaccination

· More than nine in 10 (94 percent) adults who say they "definitely will be vaccinated this year" think annual influenza vaccination is necessary

o "Probably will be vaccinated" (74 percent)

o "Probably will not be vaccinated" (39 percent)

o "Definitely will not be vaccinated" (12 percent)

Some misconceptions about influenza and vaccination are beginning to fade, though other incorrect beliefs continue to linger

· Fewer people (26 percent) believe that "hand washing alone works just as well, or better, than vaccination as a means of influenza prevention," down from 34 percent in 2010

o 38 percent of adults age 35 44 still believe this is to be true (same result in 2010)

o 38 percent of African Americans believe this statement (down from 48 percent in 2010)

· Fewer adults (43 percent) believe that the "influenza vaccine protects against just one type of flu or strain each year," down from 62 percent in 2010

· Only 63 percent believe influenza vaccination is now recommended for all Americans over 6 months of age, down from 68 percent in 2010 (the first year of universal influenza vaccination recommendation)

· Nearly half (46 percent) of those who dont believe influenza vaccination is necessary, think that "they are healthy and only people with existing health problems need to be vaccinated"

· More than one in three (35 percent) adults who dont believe influenza vaccination is necessary think they are either too old or too young to need the vaccine

· Nearly one-quarter (21 percent) of adults who did not heed a vaccination recommendation from a healthcare professional said they did not believe they needed the vaccine

The survey was conducted on behalf of NFID by CARAVAN®. Results are based on telephone interviews conducted August 11 - 14, 2011 with a sample of 1,006 adults (504 men and 502 women) age 18 years and older. The margin of error is ±3 percent for the entire sample.

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