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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Feb;30(2):111-8.

Influenza vaccination of high-risk children: what the providers say.

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National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.



Despite a longstanding national recommendation to administer influenza vaccine to children at high risk for disease complications, physicians' adherence remains low. This study evaluated physicians' perspectives on previously documented and persistent under-utilization of influenza vaccine for high-risk children.


A cross-sectional survey mailed in 2001-2002 to a nationally representative sample of 1460 U.S. physicians in four key medical specialties. The primary outcome was whether the physician provided annual influenza vaccine to children with asthma or other cardiopulmonary diseases. The hypothesis was that factors predicting reported use would fall into four categories: (1) physician knowledge, (2) physician endorsement of recommendation, (3) perceived barriers, and (4) practice patterns.


The overall response rate was 55% (n=600), but differed by specialty. Most physicians were knowledgeable about the recommendation, but collectively tended to overestimate their own achievements in immunizing high-risk children. Adherence varied by physician specialty, endorsement of recommendation, perceived barriers (including difficulty identifying subpopulations of high-risk children and confusion about who should vaccinate those receiving care from multiple providers), and under-utilization of strategies known to improve vaccination rates.


Better communication strategies are needed to resolve confusion about providing influenza vaccine to high-risk children in subspecialty settings. Because of the difficulties in selectively identifying high-risk patient subgroups, research is needed to assist in putting support strategies into practice. Findings from research in promising areas of practice-based quality improvement may be particularly applicable.

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