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Prim Care Respir J. 2012 Sep;21(3):308-12. doi: 10.4104/pcrj.2012.00012.

Notification about influenza vaccination in Belgium: a descriptive study of how people want to be informed.

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  • 1Department of Family Practice, Dutch-speaking University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium.



Influenza causes a substantial socioeconomic burden. In Belgium, only 54% of the target group receives an annual vaccination. Patient reminder/recall systems are effective in improving vaccination rates in primary care, but little is known about patients' preferences on notification of influenza vaccination.


To evaluate whether general practice patients wish to be notified of the possibility of receiving influenza immunisation, and how.


In January 2008, 750 questionnaires were handed out to all consecutive patients aged >18 years in three Belgian general practices. Main outcome measures were the percentage wanting to be notified, demographic and medical factors influencing the information needs of the patients and the specific way in which patients wanted to be notified.


About 80% of respondents wanted to be notified of the possibility of influenza vaccination. Logistic regression analysis showed that those who had previously been vaccinated particularly wished to be notified, both in the total population (OR 4.45; 95% CI 2.87 to 6.90; p<0.0001) and in the subgroup of high-risk individuals (OR 9.05; 95% CI 4.47 to 18.33; p<0.0001). More than 85% of the participants wanted to be informed by their family physician, mostly during a consultation regardless of the reason for the encounter. The second most preferred option was a letter sent by the family physician enclosing a prescription.


The majority of general practice patients want to be notified of the possibility of influenza vaccination. More than 85% of participants who wanted to be notified preferred to receive this information from their family physician, mostly by personal communication during a regular visit. However, since a large minority preferred to be addressed more proactively (letter, telephone call, e-mail), GPs should be encouraged to combine an opportunistic approach with a proactive one.

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