Do People Who Intend to Get a Flu Shot Actually Get One?

Published In: Journal of General Internal Medicine v. 24, no. 12, Dec. 2009, p. 1311-1313

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2008

by Katherine M. Harris, Jürgen Maurer, Nicole Lurie

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BACKGROUND: Vaccination against seasonal influenza is far from universal among groups specifically recommended for vaccine. There is little research to guide communication with patients about vaccination. OBJECTIVE: To assess the utility of the self-reported intention to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza in predicting vaccine uptake, reasons for being unvaccinated, and willingness to be vaccinated based on a doctor's recommendation. METHODS: The authors analyzed data from a subset of respondents (n = 1,527) specifically recommended by the ACIP for vaccination against seasonal influenza who participated in two national surveys of adults age 18 and older conducted in November 2008 and March 2009. RESULTS: Over half who intended to be vaccinated had been vaccinated. Compared to those without intentions, those with intentions were one-fifth as likely (p < 0.01) to cite lack of need and five times more likely (p < 0.01) to cite not getting around to being vaccinated as main reasons for not being vaccinated. Roughly two-fifths of those without the intention to be vaccinated indicated a willingness to be vaccinated based on a doctor's recommendation. CONCLUSIONS: Asking simple questions about the intention to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza may be an efficient means of identifying patients with whom extended discussion of vaccine benefits is warranted.

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