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Response to the 2004-2005 influenza vaccine shortage in veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders and their providers.

Evans CT, LaVela SL, Smith B, Wallace C, Goldstein B, Weaver FM. Response to the 2004-2005 influenza vaccine shortage in veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders and their providers. The journal of spinal cord medicine. 2007 Jan 1; 30(1):20-6.

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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To assess patient and provider behaviors regarding influenza vaccination, diagnosis, and testing strategies and the availability of influenza vaccine during the 2004-2005 nationwide influenza vaccine shortage. DESIGN/METHODS: Multisite, anonymous, cross-sectional surveys of patients and providers and qualitative interviews after the 2004-2005 influenza season. SETTING: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities with spinal cord injury centers or clinics. PARTICIPANTS: Stratified random sample of 3,958 veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI and D; 31% response rate), 177 providers who treat persons with SCIandD, and 17 key informants. RESULTS: Most patient respondents (96.1%) reported awareness of a vaccine shortage (n = 938). When asked whether the shortage affected their ability to get the vaccine, 64.8% said they had no problem, whereas 12.1% reported an inability to get the vaccine. The vaccination rate was 71.8%; most veterans received the vaccine early (October-November) at the VA, and vaccination rates increased with age (P < 0.0001). Although vaccine shortages were reported by 47.5% of provider survey respondents (n = 177), most reported that the vaccine shortage did not affect availability of vaccine for patients with SCIandD. Few clinicians conducted diagnostic tests for influenza more often than in past years (4.9%). Although providers reported shortages at 12 centers (n = 23), patients with SCIandD had priority at 11 of 12 centers. CONCLUSIONS: Most patients were aware of the vaccine shortage, and the vaccination rate remained high and comparable with previous years. VA providers and facilities targeted SCIandD as a high-risk group and prioritized use of the limited vaccine supply for them.

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