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Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination in older veterans: results from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system.

Chi RC, Reiber GE, Neuzil KM. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination in older veterans: results from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2006 Feb 1; 54(2):217-23.

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OBJECTIVES: To compare influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates of older veterans with those of nonveterans and to compare vaccination rates of veterans who receive care at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers with those of veterans who do not. DESIGN: Cross-sectional population-based study. SETTING: United States and territories. PARTICIPANTS: Persons aged 65 and older who participated in the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. MEASUREMENTS: Telephone survey of sociodemographics factors, including veteran status and VA care, health and behavioral characteristics, and influenza and pneumococcal vaccine use. RESULTS: Thirty percent of adults aged 65 and older were veterans, and 21% of veterans reported receiving care at VA health facilities. Veterans, especially VA users, were older and described poorer self-perceived health than nonveterans. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates were higher for veterans than for nonveterans (74% vs 68% and 68% vs 63%, respectively, P < .001 for both) and for VA users than non-VA users (80% vs 72% and 81% vs 64%, respectively, P < .001 for both). For veterans, VA care was independently associated with influenza (odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.5-2.2) and pneumococcal (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 2.0-2.9) vaccine use after adjusting for sociodemographics factors, perceived health status, diabetes mellitus, asthma, and smoking. Current smoking and black race were independent predictors of low influenza vaccine uptake. CONCLUSION: VA care was associated with improved influenza and pneumococcal vaccine coverage, although vaccination rates for all elderly veterans fell short of Healthy People 2010 goals. Increased efforts to reach undervaccinated groups, particularly blacks and smokers, are warranted.

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