Why Is Influenza Vaccine Uptake So Low Among Aboriginal Adults?

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2020 Jun 24. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13004. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Determine major barriers to, and facilitators of, influenza vaccination of Aboriginal adults, in order to improve coverage from the current level of 30%.

Methods: i) A focus group with 13 Aboriginal Immunisation Healthcare Workers; and ii) a cross-sectional survey of Aboriginal people aged ≥18 years at the 2017 New South Wales Koori Knockout (29 September-2 October).

Results: The focus group nominated poor identification of Aboriginality in general practice. Of 273 survey respondents, a substantial minority (30%) were unaware of their eligibility for free influenza vaccination. More than half (52%) believed the vaccine could cause influenza, 40% reported there were better ways than vaccination for avoiding infection and 30% said they would not have the vaccine if it was offered to them. Regarding health service access, few reported experiencing difficulty (17%), feeling uncomfortable (15%) or being discriminated against (8%), but 53% reported not receiving a reminder from a health professional.

Conclusions: Misconceptions about influenza disease and vaccine among Aboriginal people and inadequate identification of Aboriginality in general practice appear to be the greatest barriers to vaccination, rather than health service access in general. Implications for public health: More active communication to and targeting of Aboriginal adults is required; this is even more urgent following the arrival of COVID-19.

Keywords: Oceanic Ancestry Group; adult; attitudes; health knowledge; immunisation programs; practice.