Monday, 25 November 2013

Elderly Beijingers miss out on free flu vaccine

by Michael Woodhead
Most elderly people in Beijing are failing to take advantage of the government’s program of free influenza vaccine each winter, research shows.
Only 44% of people over 60 had influenza vaccination during the seasons from 2008 to 2011, according to a survey of almost 2500 elderly Beijing residents published in the BMJ Open journal this week.
The vaccination rates over three seasons were consistently below 50%, which is well below the WHO target of 75% for annual seasonal influenza vaccination for the elderly, said Dr Zheng Yang and co-researchers from the Institute for Infectious Disease and Endemic Disease Control at the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
The low uptake of flu vaccine occurred despite the government policy to offer the vaccine free of charge to all vulnerable populations including older people via community health centres, the researchers said.
Analysis of the figures showed that flu vaccination was more likely among people living in rural areas of Beijing, people with a lower level of education and those who perceived themselves to be unwell.
“Influenza vaccine coverage in Beijing still remains suboptimal. Further work needs to be undertaken to ascertain whether the method of distributing the vaccine is adequate and whether health professionals are appropriately promoting the vaccine,” the researchers concluded.
“ Education efforts should continue to highlight the need for the vaccine among individuals who are at risk from the disease and its associated complications,” they added.
Read the full study at: BMJ Open

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