Cover: The Stability of Influenza Vaccination Behavior Over Time

The Stability of Influenza Vaccination Behavior Over Time

A Longitudinal Analysis of Individuals Across 8 Years

Published in: Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 54, Issue 10, pages 783–793 (October 2020). doi: 10.1093/abm/kaaa017

Posted on Jul 19, 2023

by Matthew Walsh, Andrew M. Parker, Raffaele Vardavas, Sarah A. Nowak, David P. Kennedy, Courtney A. Gidengil


Seasonal influenza vaccination is an important behavior with significant individual and public health consequences, yet fewer than half of individuals in the USA are vaccinated annually. To promote vaccination adherence, it is important to understand the factors that affect vaccination behavior.


In this research, we focused on one such factor, an individual’s vaccination history. We gathered longitudinal data to track and understand the relationship between an individual’s vaccination history and their current behaviors.


U.S. adults completed multiple surveys over an 8 year period, which asked about whether they had received the influenza vaccination during the previous flu season. We analyzed the data to determine the strength of the relationship between vaccination decisions across single-year and multiyear intervals. Additionally, we fitted two mathematical models to the data to determine whether individuals were better characterized as having a stable propensity to vaccinate or a stable propensity to repeat their previous decisions.


Individuals exhibited highly consistent behavior across adjacent years, yet, across the complete extent of the longitudinal study, they were far more likely to repeat the earlier decision to vaccinate. Surprisingly, the results of the mathematical model suggest that individuals are better characterized as having a stable propensity to repeat their previous decisions rather than a stable propensity to vaccinate per se. Although most individuals had an extremely strong tendency to repeat the previous decision, some had a far weaker propensity to do so.


This suggests that interventions intended to increase vaccination uptake might be most impactful for those individuals with only a weak tendency to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

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