March 24, 2006

Older vets more apt to get flu/pneumonia jab

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older veterans have higher
influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates compared to older
non-veterans, according to results of a survey of more than
54,000 Americans 65 years of age or older. The survey also
shows that receiving care at a Veterans Affairs medical center
increases the likelihood of receiving these two vaccines.

"Because VA care was independently associated with higher
vaccine coverage, features contributing to such accomplishment
may serve as a model for other health systems," Dr. Ru-Chien
Chi and colleagues from the University of Washington, Seattle,
report in a report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics

Overall, about 30 percent of the subjects interviewed were
veterans and about 21 percent reported receiving care at a VA
medical center.

Compared to non-veterans, veterans were older and reported
poorer self-perceived health, the authors found.

As mentioned, influenza vaccination rates were higher for
veterans than for non-veterans (74 percent versus 68 percent,
respectively). Veterans also had higher rates of pneumococcal
vaccination (68 percent versus 63 percent, respectively).

Veterans who received care at a VA medical center had
higher rates of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination than
non-VA users (80 percent versus 72 percent and 81 percent
versus 64 percent, respectively).

VA care, influenza vaccine use, and pneumococcal vaccine
use were independently associated. Smokers and individuals of
black race were less likely to receive flu and pneumonia

"Because provider recommendation is associated with higher
vaccine use in older people, enhanced efforts by clinicians to
deliver this message, especially to under vaccinated groups,
will be important," the authors write.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society February