Associations between complementary medicine utilization and influenza/pneumococcal vaccination: Results of a national cross-sectional survey of 9151 Australian women

Prev Med. 2017 Dec;105:184-189. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.09.009. Epub 2017 Sep 12.


Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for all adults, with older adults considered a high-risk group for targeted intervention. As such it is important for factors affecting vaccine uptake in this group to be examined. Complementary medicine (CM) use has been suggested as a possible factor associated with lower vaccination uptake. To determine if associations exist between influenza and pneumococcal vaccine uptake in older Australian women and the use of CM, data from women aged 62-67years surveyed as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) were analyzed in 2013 regarding their health and health care utilization. Associations between the uptake of influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations and the use of CM were analyzed in 2016 using chi-squared tests and multiple logistic regression modelling. Of the 9151 women, 65.6% and 17.7% reported that they had influenza and pneumococcal vaccination within the past 3years respectively. Regression analyses show that women who consulted naturopaths/herbalists (OR=0.64) and other CM practitioners (OR=0.64) were less likely to have vaccination (influenza only), as were women who used yoga (OR=0.77-0.80) and herbal medicines (OR=0.78-0.83) (influenza and pneumococcal). Conversely, women using vitamin supplements were more likely to receive either vaccination (OR=1.17-1.24) than those not using vitamin supplements. The interface between CM use and influenza and pneumococcal vaccination uptake in older women appears complex, multi-factorial and often highly individualized and there is a need for further research to provide a rich examination of the decision-making and motivations of stakeholders around this important public health topic.

Keywords: Complementary medicine; Immunization; Vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / immunology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines