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‘What have you HEARD about the HERD?’ Does education about local influenza vaccination coverage and herd immunity affect willingness to vaccinate?

Logan, Jacqueline, Nederhoff, Dawn, Koch, Brandon, Griffith, Bridget, Wolfson, Julian, Awan, Fareed A., Basta, Nicole E.
Vaccine 2018 v.36 no.28 pp. 4118-4125
education, females, herd immunity, herds, influenza, influenza vaccination, influenza vaccines, learning, planning, regression analysis, Minnesota
Vaccination protects individuals directly and communities indirectly by reducing transmission. We aimed to determine whether information about herd immunity and local vaccination coverage could change an individual’s vaccination plans and concern about influenza.We surveyed Minnesota residents ≥18 years during the 2016 Minnesota State Fair. Participants were asked to identify the definition of herd immunity, to report their history of and plans to receive influenza vaccine, to report their concern about influenza, and to estimate the reported influenza vaccination coverage in their county. After providing educational information about herd immunity and local vaccination rates, we reassessed vaccination plans and concerns. We used logistic regression to estimate predicted percentages for those willing to be vaccinated, for concern about influenza, and for changes in these outcomes after the intervention. We then compared those individuals with and without prior knowledge of herd immunity, accounting for other characteristics.Among 554 participants, the median age was 57 years; most were female (65.9%), white (91.0%), and non-Hispanic/Latino (93.9%). Overall, 37.2% of participants did not know about herd immunity and 75.6% thought that the influenza vaccination coverage in their county was higher than it was reported. Those not knowledgeable about herd immunity were significantly less likely than those knowledgeable about the concept to report plans to be vaccinated at baseline (67.8% versus 78.9%; p = 0.004). After learning about herd immunity and influenza vaccination coverage, the proportion of those not knowledgeable about herd immunity who were willing to be vaccinated increased significantly by 7.3 percentage points (p = 0.001). Educating participants eliminated the significant difference in the proportion planning to be vaccinated between these two groups (80.1% of those knowledgeable and 75.1% of those who were not initially knowledgeable became willing; p = 0.148).Education about herd immunity and local vaccination coverage could be a useful tool for increasing willingness to vaccinate, generating benefits both to individuals and communities.