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.