Magazine article The Nation's Health

Doctors Often Skip Flu Vaccination Advice When Talking with Patients

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Doctors Often Skip Flu Vaccination Advice When Talking with Patients

Article excerpt

DESPITE widespread and ongoing campaigns designed to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza, a recent survey found physicians do not communicate with patients about influenza risks.

This year, federal health officials have expanded vaccination recommendations to include all children ages 6 months to 18 years and all adults ages 55 and older, according to recommendations from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices published in the Aug. 8 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The recommendation means more than 261 million Americans should be vaccinated against the flu, including those with certain health conditions, health care workers and caregivers of those most at risk for flu complications. However, anyone who wants to reduce their risks of getting flu can get vaccinated.

Yet a survey released in September by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found nearly four in 10 adults had never talked to their health care provider about receiving a flu shot. Of the 58 percent of patients who had, half said they initiated the conversation.

The survey also found that across all ages and health risks, 70 percent of adults would be likely or very likely to get an influenza vaccination if their health care provider recommended it. And 93 percent of those who were vaccinated against flu in 2007 planned to do so again this year, while 82 percent who did not get vaccinated last year also said they will not be vaccinated this year.

"Our patients need to hear from us about the importance of the flu vaccine," said Ardis D. …

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