Purpose To evaluate the impact of influenza media coverage on the 2003-04 influenza vaccination status of children 6 to 59 months.
Methods Children 6 to 59 months of age who presented to a large, pediatric resident's continuity clinic or the affiliated acute care clinic in the summer of 2004 were enrolled. The parental survey ascertained the influenza vaccination status of the child during the 2003-04 influenza season and the factors that influenced that vaccination status. For children that were vaccinated in the clinic or the health department, influenza vaccination dates were confirmed in a computerized medical record or state immunization registry.
Results Of the 256 enrolled children, 98 (38%) parents reported that their child had received the 2003-04 influenza vaccine. Of these, 64 (65%) children had confirmed influenza vaccination dates between October 1 and December 31, 2003. A comparison of the mean number of confirmed influenza vaccinations per week before and after the influenza media coverage, which began on November 17, 2003, was performed. Unlike previous influenza seasons in which influenza vaccine was evenly distributed from October through December, 48 (75%) children with confirmed vaccination dates received the influenza vaccine after the media coverage. We found 2.4 influenza vaccinations per week before and 8.6 vaccinations per week after the media coverage (Student's t-test p < .001). Multivariate analysis of all children showed that parental recall of a physician recommendation (odds ratio 14.2, 95% CI 6.6-30.5), having a family member vaccinated (odds ratio 8.2, 95% CI 3.8-17.9), and having a fall continuity clinic visit (odds ratio 5.2, 95% CI 2.3-11.4) strongly predicted the influenza vaccination status in children. Of the 94 parents who recalled a physician recommendation, 71 (76%) children were vaccinated, whereas only 27 of 162 (17%) children were vaccinated if parents did not recall a physician recommendation.
Conclusion Pediatric influenza vaccination rates in 2003-04 were on target to be similar to that of 2002-03 until the influenza media coverage when the rates dramatically increased. Media coverage in conjunction with explicit physician recommendation for children and their contacts is a key factor to improve influenza vaccination rates in children.