As it turns out, people may actually do what their doctors tell them to. A new national poll from Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health (NPCH) found that rates of vaccination against H1N1 influenza were greatly influenced by health providers’ recommendations.
Sixty-six percent of adults and 57 percent of children received the vaccine if their healthcare providers had strongly recommended it. In cases where health providers were neither for or against the vaccine, only eleven percent of adults and seven percent of children ended up receiving it.
The rapid production of vaccine—coupled with later delays—and limited data about its safety produced many skeptics among healthcare providers. Only two in five parents reported that their children’s providers strongly recommended H1N1 vaccine. And just one in five adults received the same advice.
But most healthcare providers recommended the vaccine for children, with only a small number of poll responders indicating that they had been advised against having their children receive it. Providers were also more likely to recommend vaccination for children with high risk conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
Overall, the NCPH report found that “29 percent of children and 16 percent of adults have received H1N1 vaccine as of January 2010. Children with high-risk medical conditions (for example, asthma) were more likely to have been vaccinated (37%), as were adults with high-risk conditions (21%).”
In their report, NPCH made recommendations for next year’s flu season: “Looking ahead to the 2010-11 influenza season, public health officials should emphasize the dissemination of vaccine safety and effectiveness data to healthcare providers, so that they are in a position to make recommendations to their adult and child patients. This may be key to increasing H1N1 vaccination coverage above current levels.”
The report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey of approximately 2,000 adults over the age of 18. The survey had a response rate of about 75 percent.