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Influenza vaccination among veterans with spinal cord injury: Part 1. A survey of attitudes and behavior.

Evans CT, Legro MW, Weaver FM, Goldstein B. Influenza vaccination among veterans with spinal cord injury: Part 1. A survey of attitudes and behavior. The journal of spinal cord medicine. 2003 Jul 1; 26(3):204-9.

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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Persons with spinal cord injury and disorders (SCID) are at increased risk of developing influenza, pneumonia, and ensuing complications. Influenza vaccine has been shown to be effective, yet vaccination rates have been low in this population. To improve these rates, barriers and facilitators to receiving influenza vaccine in this population were identified. METHODS: A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted with a convenience sample of patients at 13 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Centers between September and November 2000. Survey questions assessed perceptions regarding the influenza vaccine. RESULTS: Participants interviewed (N = 377) had a mean age of 58.6 years and were predominantly male and white. Most had had received the influenza vaccine at some time in the past; however, 35% had not received it in the previous year. The most common reason reported for not being vaccinated was the belief that it was not important. Those who knew the best time to be vaccinated were more likely to have been vaccinated the previous year (OR = 3.57, 95%, CI: 2.12-6.01). Other predictors of vaccination included being married, being aged 65 and older, and being aware that the vaccine was a good way to prevent some pulmonary problems that can result from influenza. CONCLUSIONS: Barriers to vaccination include poor understanding of the seriousness of influenza and of the vulnerability of someone with SCID to respiratory complications. Availability of the influenza vaccine at VA facilities and knowledge of when to be vaccinated were facilitators. Providers should use every opportunity to vaccinate patients and provide education about the value of influenza vaccination and when to be vaccinated.

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