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Strengthening routine flu vaccination and health programs may improve pandemic vaccinations
Date:11/2/2010

Strengthening routine influenza vaccination and health programs may help states improve their vaccination coverage against future pandemics or other health emergencies, a new study suggests.

The study -- conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- examined factors that may have contributed to the striking state-by-state variation in U.S. H1N1 flu vaccination rates. The results of the study were revealed on Oct. 26 at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making.

"Health officials in states that reported lower H1N1 vaccination rates should learn from states with high vaccination rates during the 2009 event to increase their rates during the next pandemic or significant health emergency," said Julie Swann, an associate professor in Georgia Tech's H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Swann also held a joint appointment at the CDC for six months last year through its Preparedness Modeling Unit.

CDC Immunization Services Division Branch Chief Pascale Wortley and Georgia Tech graduate student Carlo Davila Payan worked with Swann on this project.

Among American adults, H1N1 vaccine coverage ranged from a high of 34 percent in South Dakota to a low of nine percent in Mississippi. The research team found that states with higher past seasonal influenza vaccination coverage or use of other preventive health services in adults showed higher 2009 H1N1 vaccination rates.

"These findings suggest that an increase in health-seeking behavior may increase vaccination rates during a pandemic," noted Swann. "If we could encourage more adults to be vaccinated against flu each year, we might have more success in protecting them from the next pandemic."

Lower adult H1N1 vaccination coverage was observed in states where the disease circulated for a long period of time. That might have
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Contact: Abby Vogel Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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