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Vaccine uptake affected by culture


Older people’s cultural beliefs influence their likelihood of choosing to be vaccinated against influenza, according to a study.

Many countries’ older populations have vaccination rates that lag behind that recommended by the World Health Organization.

Those who believe they are unlikely to catch flu are also those least likely to accept a vaccine against the illness. Unsurprisingly, people who are encouraged by officials to get vaccinated and who also believe they can benefit from such a vaccine are the ones most likely to carry it through.

The research involved 208 older people from Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Indonesia, Korea, Nigeria, Turkey and the UK. They were put into 14 vaccinated and 12 non-vaccinated focus groups in which they discussed their experiences of influenza, vaccination and the promotion of influenza vaccines. The data was gathered in 2007.

Five themes were identified by the researchers, who came up with a framework for understanding vaccination behaviour. Vaccine preferences were guided by people’s “behavioural beliefs” in vaccination, which came from the perceived susceptibility to influenza and how effective they believed vaccines to be, the study authors said.

Healthcare and social costs were also factors.

Uptake of vaccination was likely to be more concentrated in countries where the benefit of vaccines had become a “normative belief”.

The researchers said healthcare providers that help to foster a belief in older people that vaccinations are worthwhile, as well as providing encouragement, will be more successful in increasing vaccine uptake.


Readers' comments (3)

  • bob cat

    Hmm. @fostering normative beliefs' in vaccination? Does that mean addressing [peoples' actual concerns regarding vaccinations or just good old railroading of people?
    I'm intrigued by the superficiality of this line of questioning as it doesn't discuss the reasons for peoples' lack of uptake. Is that regarded as important in any way at all?
    I seem to remember that the W.H.O. doesn't have a particularly great record on ethics regarding promoting vaccinations of late, ie. swine flu.
    I also remember the relatively recent episodes of the chinese government lying and decieving their public regarding health advice and treament, which I believe has been cited as a direct response to lack of uptake of vaccines.

    I wonder why this research hasn't seen the light of day here?
    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Am J Clin Nutr (March 10, 2010).

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  • Isn't this about health beliefs rather than culture?

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  • Agree with the above two comments on the whole. I DIDN'T get my flu vaccination - never have done despite ribbing about it and "encouragement". We base our beliefs on our experiences: this is true of EVERYTHING to a large extent. If I had an underlying condition etc, I would re-evaluate my decision not to get vaccination. I was slagged for strongly encouraging my daughter (who takes steroid inhalers for Asthma) to get her flu vaccines, whilst I declined mine. I didn't see any hypocracy in this: I weighed up the 'risks', possible consequences according to the individual circumstances and my experiences, in both cases... Culture is perhaps an overused word? This (in my appinion) is all to do with motivation, cognition and beliefs, yes perhaps highly influenced by cultural experiences!

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