Background: Influenza vaccination has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality in the older adult population. In Canada, vaccination rates remain suboptimal. We identified factors predictive of influenza vaccination, in order to determine which segments of the older adult population might be targeted to increase coverage in influenza vaccination programs.
Methods: The Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) is a population-based national cohort study of 10263 older adults (>/= 65) conducted in 1991. We used data from the 5007 community-dwelling participants in the CSHA without dementia for whom self-reported influenza vaccination status is known.
Results: Of 5007 respondents, 2763 (55.2%) reported having received an influenza vaccination within the previous 2 years. The largest predictive factors for flu vaccination included: being married (57.4 vs. 52.6%, p = 0.0007), having attained a higher education (11.0 vs. 10.3 years, p < 0.0001), smoking (57.1% vs. 52.9%, p = 0.0032), more alcohol use (57.9% of those who drank more vs. 53.2% of those who drank less, p = 0.001), poorer self-rated health (54.1% of those with good self-rated health vs. 60.6% of those with poor self-rated health, p = 0.0006), regular exercise (56.8% vs. 52.0%, p = 0.001), and urban living (55.8% vs. 51.0%, p = 0.03). While many other differences were statistically significant, most were small (e.g. mean age 75.1 vs. 74.6 years for immunized vs. unimmunized older adults, p = 0.006, higher Modified Mini Mental Status Examination score (89.9 vs. 89.1, p < 0.0001), higher comorbidity (2.7 vs. 2.3 comorbidities, p < 0.0001). Residents of Ontario were more likely (64.6%) to report vaccination (p < 0.0001), while those living in Quebec were less likely to do so (48.2%, p < 0.0001). Factors retaining significance in a multivariate analysis included older age, higher education, married status, drinking alcohol, smoking, engaging in regular exercise, and having higher comorbidity.
Conclusions: The vaccination rate in this sample, in whom influenza vaccination is indicated, was low (55.2%). Even in a publicly administered health care setting, influenza vaccination did not reach an important proportion of the elderly population. Whether these differences reflect patient preference or access remains to be determined.