More people going for flu jabs

27/10/2003 10:00

Before the start of the winter more than 2.5 million people in the Netherlands aged 16 and older go for a flu jab; 2.1 million of these people belong to groups in the population with an increased risk of severe complications if they catch flu. Since 1992 there has been a government campaign every autumn to encourage people with and increased risk to be vaccinated.

Vaccination rate up

In the winter of 2001/2002 the vaccination rate was over 20 percent. In other words, one in five people aged 16 years and older had been vaccinated against influenza. In the winter of 1991/1992, before the campaigns started, this was only 6.5 percent.

Vaccination rate: increased risk and normal risk groups

Vaccination rate: increased risk and normal risk groups

Campaign successful for increased risk groups

The campaigns are mainly aimed at groups who have an increased risk of complications. And it is in these groups that most progress has been made. While only 24 percent of people in these groups were vaccinated before the campaigns started, this had risen to 69 percent in the winter of 2001/2002. The growth was especially strong after the mid-nineties, when general practitioners were put at the centre of the campaign.

Four out of five flu jabs on doctor’s orders

More and more people go for a vaccination on the recommendation of their GP. In the winter of 2001/2002 eight out of ten flu jabs were given on doctor’s orders. Ten years previously this was only four out of ten. In the increased risk groups, as many as nine out of ten vaccinations were received on doctors’ advice. Again the increase was particularly strong after 1995, when GPs started to take a more active role in this respect.

Flu vaccinations on doctor’s advice

Flu vaccinations on doctor’s advice

Three quarters of over-65s vaccinated

As people grow older, they are more likely to go for a vaccination. The percentage increases from less than 5 among young people to around 25 for 55-64 year-olds. As people aged 65 and older are included in the group with an increased risk, there is a sharp rise in the number of people vaccinated from this age. Three out every four people aged 65 and older are vaccinated.

Vaccination rate by age, winter 2001/2002

Vaccination rate by age, winter 2001/2002

People insured under the national health insurance fund more often go for the vaccination than people with private insurance. In addition, the number of vaccinated people decreases as the educational level rises. This is the case for both the increased risk group and the normal risk group. One of the reasons for this is the lower average age among people with higher educational levels, but even after correction for this, there is still a difference between people with higher and those with lower educational levels.

Frans Frenken