Survey reveals disconnect between adults' perceptions and behaviors regarding immunizations

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Walgreens Immunization Index shows that 89% of U.S. adults believed that vaccinations offer protection, but greater than 40% were unaware of the immunizations they might need or when they last received vaccines routinely recommended by CDC.

Although 71% of adults surveyed in the Walgreens Immunization Index believed that staying current on immunizations was very important to maintaining good health, survey data also revealed several trends indicating disconnect between participant perception and behavior regarding immunizations.

The Walgreens Immunization Index was a telephone survey conducted in August and September 2012 among a nationally representative sample of 600 U.S. adults older than 18 years; participants were balanced to match U.S. Census data for gender and age groups. In addition to measuring immunization behaviors and knowledge, the survey assessed participants' response to information from health care providers, news media, and other external sources.

The survey results showed that 89% of U.S. adults believed that vaccinations offer protection against viruses and preventable diseases, but greater than 40% were unaware of the immunizations they might need or when they last received vaccines routinely recommended by CDC.

Survey data on whooping cough (pertussis) were noteworthy, particularly in light of the high number of cases in 2012. The 29,000 cases of pertussis through September 20 already exceed the total in all of 2011 by 10,000.

  • The greatest motivator for participants to consider getting the pertussis vaccine would be an outbreak in their community or city (60%), but only 31% were aware of reported cases or outbreaks of pertussis in their area.
  • 61% said they have never received the pertussis vaccine.
  • 55% indicated that they would be very likely to adhere to the pertussis vaccine recommendation for pertussis, which was the lowest percentage among all immunizations listed (i.e., tetanus, influenza, pneumonia, meningitis, shingles, pertussis).
  • Among those immunized against pertussis, 37% said they last received a pertussis/Tdap (tetanus–diphtheria–acellular pertussis) immunization or booster more than 10 years ago, while 20% did not know when they last received the vaccine.
  • 34% indicated being vaccinated against pertussis in the previous 3 years, and 15% stated they had received the vaccine in the past year.
  • 30% were not very familiar with pertussis.

Among the findings for shingles (herpes zoster), the Walgreens Immunization Index revealed that one in eight (13%) survey participants believed they were likely to get shingles at some point in their lifetime, although CDC states that one in three adults will develop shingles.

Other findings from the survey included the following:

  • 64% of respondents indicated they would be likely to follow a health professional's recommendation to get vaccinated against influenza.
  • 73% believed that most information about vaccines is credible and trustworthy.
  • 51% reported receiving health information from physicians/nurses and 42% from online sources, while only 8% relied on newspapers or television.
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