CHIME News

Publication: Predictors of influenza vaccine uptake during the 2009/10 influenza A H1N1v ('swine flu') pandemic: Results from five national surveys in the United Kingdom

15 January 2016

Most people offered the swine flu vaccine in the UK refused it, as in other countries. The official uptake rate was just 34.5%. A new study by a group at King’s College London and UCL, including the Institute of Health Informatics’ Dr Henry Potts, investigated why.

Women and 25-34 year-olds were less likely to be vaccinated, as were those who thought too much fuss was being made about the pandemic.

The research found that the main reasons people gave for not being vaccinated were concerns over the safety of the vaccine, and a belief that they are generally healthy and don’t need it.

Smaller proportions said they did not like having vaccinations, with only a few citing concerns over flu-like symptoms from having the jab. Women and 25-34 year-olds were less likely to be vaccinated, as were those who thought too much fuss was being made about the pandemic.

While the swine flu pandemic was relatively mild, leading many to think the government made too much fuss about the pandemic, 474 people in the UK were still killed by the disease. Tackling these misperceptions are key to encouraging vaccination in future pandemics, which could be more severe.

In line with other qualitative research carried out at UCL (Rubinstein et al., 2015), the identity of being a ‘fit and healthy person’ can be a barrier to flu advice with the public not understanding that most health and fitness activities provide no protection against infectious diseases.

The NHS has a useful factsheet on myths about flu and the flu vaccine.

The full text of the paper is available online: Han YKJ, Michie S, Potts HWW, Rubin GJ (2016). Predictors of influenza vaccine uptake during the 2009/10 influenza A H1N1v ('swine flu') pandemic: Results from five national surveys in the United Kingdom. Preventive Medicine, published online. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.12.018

Page last modified on 15 jan 16 17:16