Background: The objective of this study was to assess the predictive effects of socioeconomic factors to explain influenza vaccination coverage rates in 11 European countries.
Methods: Data from national household surveys collected over up to seven consecutive seasons between 2001/2002 and 2007/2008 were analyzed to assess the associations of socioeconomic factors with immunization against influenza.
Results: In total, data from 92,101 household contacts representative for the national non-institutionalized population aged above 14 years were analyzed. Influenza vaccination coverage rates in Europe remain suboptimal with little or no progress in the last years. The results of this study indicate that gender, household income, size of household, educational level and population size of living residence may significantly contribute to explain chances of getting immunized against influenza apart from the known risk factors age and chronic illness. The effect of these socioeconomic factors was differently expressed among the countries and could not be explained solely on basis of economic characteristics of these countries.
Conclusions: Future measures should address inequalities to achieve the WHO target by 2010 with an influenza vaccination rate of 75% in the elderly. National vaccination campaigns may need to take socioeconomic segments of the population here identified as less likely of getting the influenza vaccine into account.