New research by Walgreen Co. reveals a disconnect between consumer beliefs and behaviors when it comes to immunizations.

Walgreens, Walgreens Immunization Index, Kermit Crawford, vaccination, vaccine, Alan London, Take Care Clinics, shingles, whooping cough, pertussis, flu shot, flu season, CDC, Zostavax

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Walgreens research sheds light on immunizations

October 4th, 2012

DEERFIELD, Ill. – New research by Walgreen Co. reveals a disconnect between consumer beliefs and behaviors when it comes to immunizations.

The drug chain said Thursday that according to the new Walgreens Immunization Index, 71% of 600 adults surveyed said they think being up-to-date on immunizations is very important to maintaining good health,with 68% believing that's more important than an annual doctor visit.

In the telephone poll, 89% of those surveyed believe that vaccinations help protect people from viruses and preventable diseases. Yet more than 40% don’t know which immunizations they may need or even when they last received certain vacecines routinely recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In examining consumer behavior, the study found that the biggest motivator for people to consider the whooping cough vaccine would be an outbreak in their city or community (60%). But only 31% of respondents are aware of the status of reported cases or outbreaks in their area.

“This reinforces the need for adults to have a regular dialogue with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse practitioner or other clinician, regardless of their health condition,” Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness at Walgreens, said in a statement. “Our network of 27,000 immunizing pharmacists, as well as Take Care Clinic nurse practitioners, continues to educate patients about immunizations as an important preventive health measure that can help people get, stay and live well – not just during flu season but year-round.”

When asked how likely they would be to follow a health care provider’s recommendation for an immunization for tetanus, flu, pneumonia, meningitis, shingles and whooping cough, only 55% of respondents said they’d be very likely to adhere to the recommendation for whooping cough – the lowest percentage of the vaccines listed, according to Walgreens.

Other survey findings for whooping cough/pertussis include the following:

- 23% know someone who has had the illness.
- 61% of adults say they’ve never been immunized against whooping cough.
- Of those immunized, 37% say it’s been more than 10 years since their last pertussis/tdap immunization or booster. Another 20% don’t know when they last received the vaccine.
- Of those immunized, 34% say they’ve been vaccinated for whooping cough in the past three years, including 15% who say they’d had the immunization in the past year.
- 30% of adults surveyed aren’t very familiar with whooping cough/pertussis.

Walgreens also noted that each day, about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, putting them at greater risk for shingles. The CDC recommends the Zostavax vaccine for anyone age 60 and older. Anyone can get the shot to help reduce their risk, but shingles is most common in those over 50 years old. The Walgreens Immunization Index showed that 63% of those over age 65 know of someone who has had the virus, and of seniors over 65, 30% say they have received the Zostavax vaccine to help prevent shingles.

Still, the index found that some misconceptions exist. Just 13% of adults believe they are likely to get shingles at some point in their lifetime, although the CDC says one in three adults will develop shingles. The survey also found that 67% incorrectly believe they can help prevent shingles through measures such hand washing or by getting plenty of sleep (59%). And half of seniors over 65 surveyed are extremely familiar with the shingles vaccine.

Meanwhile, October signals the start of flu season and is typically the busiest month for flu shots. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed say they would be likely to follow a health care provider’s recommendation for a flu shot. Of those who received a flu shot during the H1N1 pandemic year of 2009, 85% say they have gotten a flu shot in the seasons since.

Among other key survey findings of the Walgreens Immunization Index, 73% of respondents believe much of the information about vaccines is credible and trustworthy; 51% of people are getting their health information from doctors/nurses and 42% from online sources. However, few are turning to the newspaper (8%) or television (8%) as a health resource

“This season, Walgreens and Take Care Clinics introduced an immunizations assessment, which is free with every flu shot, in large part due to our recent findings that have shown a general lack of awareness among a majority of adults when it comes to immunizations,” stated Alan London, chief medical officer for Take Care Clinics, a Walgreens subsidiary. “We’ve demonstrated that people value being able to get immunizations and other services when it’s most convenient for them, as nearly one-third of flu shots at Walgreens and Take Care Clinics were administered during evenings, weekends and holidays. The important thing now is to make sure people are getting the health care information and services they need.”

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