Study shows media coverage on flu influences parents to vaccinate their children

their decision to get their child a flu vaccine.

Ninety-eight parents reported their children had received the 2003-04 vaccine, and 64 parents had confirmed influenza dates. Seventy-five percent of the children with confirmed vaccination dates received the vaccine after mid-November 2003. In November and December 2003, there was a spike in media coverage on the influenza season, focusing on the season being early and severe.

Parents said there were many other factors that influenced them to seek a flu vaccination, including physician recommendation, other family members receiving a vaccination and media coverage, among others.

When asked what influenced the decision to get their child vaccinated, 26 percent of parents cited media influence, second to the 60 percent who said it was because of doctors recommendations.

VUMC's Office of News and Public Affairs provided data on local and national media coverage during this influenza season, utilizing the office's media tracking software and other media sources. Coverage was tracked for VUMC references with mentions of "flu" and "influenza" in print, wire services, radio, Internet news and television on the local and national levels.

"It was gratifying for our office to have the opportunity to participate in this study," Howser said.

Poehling said she sees an opportunity for VUMC physicians and researchers to work with the Office of News and Public Affairs to promote other important public health issues, a sentiment Howser echoes.

"News and Public Affairs is always available to assist our faculty with educating the public on the value of the work we do here. In addition to actively promoting clinical and basic science breakthroughs, we are also constantly collecting data regarding our interactions with the news media," Howser said.


Contact: John Howser
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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