UI study indicates many older adults still not receiving recommended vaccinations

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Many older adults still do not receive flu and pneumococcal vaccinations despite their proven safety and effectiveness in helping some elderly people-- especially those with chronic medical conditions -- avoid more serious illness.

These findings come from University of Iowa Health Care researchers who interviewed nearly 800 older Iowans to determine what factors were associated with getting the vaccines.

"Vaccinations are one of the best preventive health measures around, yet I'm always surprised that they are not more widely used," said Bradley Doebbeling, M.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine and preventive medicine and environmental health, and study's senior author. "We were interested in finding out more about who's receiving their shots among this specific segment of the population. I think our results show that there is room for improvement."

The researchers studied 787 Iowa adults, selected at random from both rural and urban areas, who were age 65 or older and who had one or more chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart or lung disease, or hypertension. Participants were asked about their current health practices, marital and occupational status, and access to health care.

Of the 784 subjects who provided complete influenza vaccination information, 68 percent reported getting the flu vaccine in the past year. Of the 768 people who provided complete pneumococcal vaccination information, 51 percent reported having received it. Forty-four percent of the study participants reported receiving both vaccines.

Doebbeling said the numbers are "certainly lower than we'd like to see. This is a group of people who actually have two strong indicators -- being age 65 or older and having a chronic health problem -- for getting these vaccines. This is a group that we should targeting for vaccination in the 90 to 100 percent range," he said.

Study results showed that people age 70 or older were more li

Contact: Dave Pedersen
University of Iowa

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