Journal of Community Health

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 201–206 | Cite as

Influenza Vaccination Beliefs and Practices in Elderly Primary Care Patients

  • Sharon Rikin
  • Vanessa Scott
  • Steven Shea
  • Philip LaRussa
  • Melissa S. StockwellEmail author
Original Paper


The majority of influenza related deaths and hospitalizations occur among individuals ≥65 years, yet the national influenza vaccination rate for this group is 63% and is lower in the Hispanic population. Previous studies have described negative predictors of vaccination; however, there is a knowledge gap of how influenza vaccine-specific beliefs affect vaccination rates. We examined the relationship between influenza vaccine health beliefs and vaccination behaviors in a cross sectional sample of 200 primarily Hispanic patients aged ≥65 years in an academic general internal medicine clinic. Participants were asked about perceptions of influenza vaccine effectiveness and safety. Interview responses regarding influenza vaccine concerns were evaluated qualitatively with conventional content analysis. Logistic regression evaluated associations between beliefs and self-reported vaccination the previous year, adjusted for age, gender, and language. Of those approached to complete the questionnaire, 88% participated. Self-reported influenza vaccination rate during the study year was 75%. Only 46.5% endorsed the belief that influenza vaccine is very effective and 47% that it is very safe. Many stated specific concerns about flu vaccine including that it causes side effects/adverse outcomes, is not effective, vaccine components are harmful, and vaccination is not necessary. Belief that the flu shot causes the flu and concern for variability of the flu shot were associated with reduced odds of vaccination (aOR 0.19, 95% CI [0.05, 0.83] and 0.06 [0.006, 0.63] respectively). The patient-perceived distinction between cold, flu, and other symptoms warrants further exploration. This information can be used to develop targeted communication to promote vaccination.


Geriatrics Health behavior Immunization Medical decision making Underserved populations 



S. Rikin and V. Scott were supported by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Grant Number T0BHP293020100. We thank our research assistant, Angela Barrett.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon Rikin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vanessa Scott
    • 2
    • 3
  • Steven Shea
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Philip LaRussa
    • 3
  • Melissa S. Stockwell
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MedicineColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.NewYork-Presbyterian HospitalNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Population and Family HealthColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Division of Child and Adolescent HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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