Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination: do older people know if they have been vaccinated?

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Abstract

Objective:

To estimate influenza and pneumococcal immunisation rates by self-report and validate this with immunisation providers.

Method:

A random population telephone survey. This was followed by contacting immunisation providers of those reporting having an influenza vaccination (2009 or 2010 only) and/or pneumococcal vaccination to confirm vaccination or not.

Results:

A total of 680 people aged 65 and older responded to the telephone survey. Seventy-five per cent of respondents self-reported influenza vaccination in 2010 and 26% self-reported having ever had the pneumococcal vaccination. Following up with immunisation providers, we found recall for influenza vaccination was confirmed in 96% of cases. For the pneumococcal vaccination, recall for vaccination was confirmed in 87% of cases. People saying they were not vaccinated for pneumococcal were subsequently confirmed as vaccinated in 77% of cases.

Conclusions:

In this study, self-reported influenza vaccination was reliable. The term ‘pneumococcal vaccination or Pneumovax’ was poorly recognised by our telephone survey respondents as evident by the low rate of self-reported pneumococcal vaccination compared to a much higher rate of pneumococcal vaccinations recorded by GPs.

Implications:

While pneumococcal vaccination is an accurate term, researchers should be aware of the terminology used in general practice and the community when designing their survey.

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