Gender-specific flu data could be used to help boost compliance

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Article

A new study suggests that new information on who is most likely to have a reaction may help boost immunizations.

Gender-specific flu data could be used to help boost compliance | Image Credit: © Sherry Young - stock.adobe.com.

Gender-specific flu data could be used to help boost compliance | Image Credit: © Sherry Young - stock.adobe.com.

Article highlights

  • Flu vaccination noncompliance as a public health issue
  • Concerns about vaccine side effects contribute to refusal rates
  • Seasonal influenza still causes significant deaths and infections in the United States
  • Study reveals higher rate of influenza vaccine reactions in women compared to men, including injection site and systemic reactions
  • Better education on gender-specific vaccine reactions may improve compliance rates and address misconceptions about flu vaccination

Noncompliance with flu vaccination is a public health issue, and concerns about the side effects of the vaccine still play a big role in refusals. A new study suggests that new information on who is most likely to have a reaction may help boost immunizations.

Despite being a vaccine-preventable illness, seasonal influenza still kills up to 52,000 Americans each year and infects as many as 41 million in the United States each year overall.1

While there is some variation in the efficacy of the flu vaccine from year to year that could contribute to post-vaccination infections,2 concerns over the necessity, efficacy, and safety of the vaccines are believed to play a bigger role in the refusal of flu vaccines.3

Only about half of all Americans are vaccinated against influenza each year.4 Vaccination rates are higher in more sensitive populations that run a higher risk of severe illness in death, but not significantly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC), about 58% of children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years are vaccinated against the flu in the average year. The CDC reported that flu vaccination rates among children dropped to closer to 50% last year, despite the virus causing more than 100 deaths among children that year alone.5

Since misconceptions and misinformation remain a major big barrier when it comes to flu vaccination rates, a new study suggests that better education on vaccine reactions may help boost compliance.6

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, revealed that new research points to a higher rate of reactions to the influenza vaccine in women than in men.

According to the research team, injection site reactions were more common in females than in males, regardless of age or vaccine type. Systemic reactions were also seen more in females than in males of all ages, with younger females experiencing the highest rate of reaction.

The study examined data from more than 34,000 vaccinations across 18 studies. The authors of the study suggest that more research on gender-specific reaction risks could help providers provide targeted vaccination education to patients—especially those at risk for refusal over concerns for adverse effects. Future studies may even examine other specific demographics and patient populations to help providers educate patients on their individualized risk of a vaccine reaction.

For more on influenza, click here.

References:

  1. Disease burden of flu. CDC.gov. 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html
  2. Vaccine effectiveness: How well do flu vaccines work? CDC.gov. 2023. Accessed Oct. 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm
  3. 6 reasons patients avoid flu vaccination. AMA-assn.org. 2020. Accessed Oct. 12, 2023. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/6-reasons-patients-avoid-flu-vaccination
  4. Flu vaccination coverage, United States, 2021–22 influenza season. CDC.gov. 2022. Accessed Oct. 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/coverage-2022estimates.htm
  5. Pediatric flu deaths top 100 this season; Most unvaccinated. CDC.gov. 2023. Accessed Oct. 12, 2023 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/2022-2023/pediatric-flu-deaths.htm
  6. Kiely M, Tadount F, Lo E, et al. Sex differences in adverse events following seasonal influenza vaccines: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Epidemiol Community Health, Published Online First: 21 September 2023. doi:10.1136/jech-2023-220781
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