Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kentuckians Urged to Get H1N1 Flu Vaccination During National Influenza Vaccination Week, Survey Results Show Many Still Need Vaccine

H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine availability survey results reveal many Kentuckians still need vaccination

Governor Steve Beshear has proclaimed National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) in Kentucky Jan. 10-16. The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is encouraging Kentuckians to get vaccinated against H1N1 influenza (swine flu) during the observance.

The annual observance was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as foster greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. While the state has seen a decline in flu activity recently, another wave of swine flu is still possible in the months ahead.

“Since the spread of 2009 H1N1 is likely to continue into the new year, this week-long observation will be an important opportunity to promote the uptake of H1N1 flu vaccination at a time when demand for vaccine usually drops significantly,” said DPH Commissioner William Hacker.

DPH conducted a telephone survey Dec. 9-18 to measure the extent to which Kentuckians in target group populations were able to obtain H1N1 vaccine. The survey found that 32 percent of respondents with children aged 6 months to 17 years old reported that their children had been vaccinated, but only 16 percent of adults and 25 percent of adults in vaccine target groups surveyed had been vaccinated at that time. Of those who had not been vaccinated, less than 30 percent expressed interest in being vaccinated. Those who did not plan on vaccination said it was mainly due to not being concerned about getting sick from H1N1 (30 percent) or because of vaccine safety concerns (20 percent). 

“While flu is unpredictable, we do know that if more people were vaccinated, the disease is less likely to spread in the coming months. I want to reassure Kentuckians that the swine flu vaccine is safe and effective, and was produced using the same methods as seasonal flu vaccine," said Dr. Hacker. "The swine flu vaccine is now widely available in communities across the state for anyone who wishes to receive it. We especially urge those with chronic health conditions that put them at risk of serious flu-related complications to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The survey was used as a tool to measure the saturation of available H1N1 vaccine in communities across the state, specifically for the target groups identified as being at higher risk for developing complications from flu. Target groups identified for the survey and strongly encouraged to be vaccinated include: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months; children and young adults 6 months to 24 years of age; health care workers; and people with chronic health conditions that include asthma, neurological conditions, chronic lung and heart disease, and disorders of the kidney, liver, endocrine system and blood.

The survey was conducted by The Matrix Group, based in Lexington. Funding for the survey was provided through a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

A PDF summary of survey's findings is also available for download.


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