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Original Investigation
September 12, 2005

Influenza Vaccination Trends Among Adults 65 Years or Older in the United States, 1989-2002

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Epidemiology and Surveillance Division, National Immunization Program (Drs Lu and Bridges and Mr Singleton), Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention–Surveillance and Epidemiology, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention (Dr Rangel), and Immunization Service Division, National Immunization Program (Dr Wortley), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.

Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(16):1849-1856. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.16.1849

Background  Influenza vaccination of elderly individuals (65 years or older) has been recommended in the United States since 1961, and consistent surveillance of vaccine use has been conducted since 1989. We examined national trends in influenza vaccination coverage in the United States from 1989 to 2002 among noninstitutionalized elderly individuals and identified factors associated with receipt of influenza vaccine.

Methods  We analyzed data from the 1989-2002 National Health Interview Surveys, weighted to reflect the civilian, noninstitutionalized US population to determine self-reported levels of influenza vaccination. We conducted multivariable logistic regression modeling of 2002 data to identify factors independently associated with self-reported influenza vaccination.

Results  Among the elderly, influenza vaccination coverage increased from 30.5% in 1989 to 65.6% in 2002, with only a 2.4% increase from 1997 to 2002. In 2002, coverage remained lower for the non-Hispanic black (49.6%) and Hispanic (48.5%) populations compared with non-Hispanic whites (68.6%). Characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of influenza vaccination included fewer than 4 physician contacts in the past year and whether a person (1) was divorced or separated, (2) was non-Hispanic black or Hispanic, (3) had no regular physician, and (4) had less than a high school education. Individuals with chronic medical conditions and those 75 years or older were more likely to be vaccinated.

Conclusions  By 1997, influenza vaccination coverage exceeded the Healthy People 2000 objective of 60% for the elderly overall, but even by 2002, this objective was still not achieved in the elderly black and Hispanic populations. Vaccination coverage seems to be leveling off, and innovative initiatives are needed to reach the Healthy People 2010 target of 90%, especially among racial and ethnic minorities.