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American adults receiving flu vaccine at about the same rate as in 2008, study finds
Date:12/9/2009

American adults are not being vaccinated against the seasonal flu any more often than they were last year, despite increased public discussion of the importance of influenza vaccines resulting from the worldwide outbreak of the H1N1 virus, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

As of the middle of November, about 32 percent of all U.S. adults and 37 percent of adults recommended to receive a flu vaccination had been inoculated against the seasonal influenza, according to the study.

Researchers also found that 17 percent of all adults and 19 percent of those recommended for vaccination intended to receive the seasonal flu vaccine by the end of the vaccination season.

"It does not appear that the increased public discussion of the role of influenza vaccines has had a significantly impact on the public's behavior," said Katherine Harris, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Most of the results from our latest survey look much like those from last year,"

Health officials recommend the seasonal flu vaccine for about 70 percent of American adults, including people over age 50, those with high-risk medical conditions, health care workers and those who care for children under age 5. There are different recommendations for the H1N1 flu vaccine, which protects against the pandemic influenza strain.

One difference from last year noted by new survey is that adults began getting the seasonal flu vaccine earlier this year. Uptake of the seasonal vaccine during September was nearly three times as high -- about 9 percent in 2009 versus 3 percent in 2008. Yet, vaccine uptake through mid-November this year was comparable to uptake during the same period last year.

In addition, about half of health care workers had been vaccinated by the middle of November this year, roughly the same proportion that was vaccinated during the entire season last year. However, 40 percent
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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