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October 2000
Zalmzn Kaufman MSc, Irit Cohen-Manheim MSc and Manfred S. Green MD MPH PhD

Background: Although influenza is usually a mild self-limiting disease it can cause serious complications in high risk groups. The economic costs of influenza are large due to the burden on the health system and absenteeism from work. There is evidence that the vaccine is underused in groups targeted for vaccination.

Objectives: To estimate: a) the compliance rate with the influenza vaccination in Israel during the winter seasons of 1998/1999 and 1999/2000, b) the role of health care personnel and the media in influencing compliance, and c) the reasons for lack of compliance in the elderly.      

Methods: Two national population-based random telephone surveys of 1,500 households were performed during October 1999 and January 2000 to survey influenza vaccination compliance prior to the winters of 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 respectively. Each survey was performed during four successive evenings. The response rate was 78.1% for the first survey and 79.1% for the second.

Results: Vaccination compliance was similar in both surveys. The average rate of vaccination was 6% for the population under 65 years and 50% for the population of 65 years and above. The overall vaccination rate was around 10%. The family physician was the main authority to recommend the vaccination, followed by the community nurse. Absence of recommendation and lack of faith in the efficacy of the vaccine were the main reasons for non-compliance.

Conclusion: Compliance rates with influenza vaccine in targeted groups in Israel remain relatively low. Health care personnel should be more involved in promoting the vaccine.
 

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