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Media Coverage Responsible for Growth in Vaccination Rates

Posted Jun 24 2010 6:39pm

Mass media coverage of flu-related topics such as vaccine shortages and delays appears to boost overall vaccination rates and prompt people to get their shots earlier in the flu season. A study published online today in the journal Health Service Research shows that, on average, national news reports involving the flu are estimated to increase annual vaccination rates by as many an 8 percentage points.

“There is a strong correlation between media coverage and the timing and annual receipt of influenza vaccine among the elderly,” said Byung-Kwang Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and lead author of the study. “We know that mass media can substantially influence health knowledge and the use of health services. In this instance, it is also clear that the media play a significant role in public health.”

The study focused on vaccination trends over three flu “seasons” from 1999 to 2001, a period that included 2 years with a vaccine supply shortage and/or delay in delivery (2000 and 2001.)

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