HealthDay News — Educating adults about herd immunity can increase the proportion willing to be vaccinated for influenza, according to a study recently published in Vaccine.

Jacqueline Logan, MPH, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues surveyed 554 Minnesota residents aged ≥18 years to examine their understanding of herd immunity and their history of and plans to receive influenza vaccine. Vaccination plans and concerns were reassessed after providing information about herd immunity and local vaccination coverage. 

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The researchers found that 37.2% of participants did not know about herd immunity; 75.6% thought that influenza vaccination coverage was higher than reported in their county. The likelihood of reporting plans to be vaccinated at baseline was significantly lower for those not knowledgeable about herd immunity versus those knowledgeable about the concept (67.8 vs 78.9%; P=.004). The proportion of those not knowledgeable about herd immunity who were willing to be vaccinated increased significantly by 7.3% after learning about herd immunity and influenza vaccination coverage (P=.001). The significant difference in the proportion planning to be vaccinated between the two groups was eliminated by educating participants (80.1 and 75.1% of those knowledgeable and those not initially knowledgeable, respectively, became willing; P=.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,” the authors write.

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