Author(s): Lam Lau, Lau Ying (ESS), Ying Hon Lau
Background –
Worldwide pandemics of influenza virus caused extensive morbidity and mortality around the world and influenza vaccination is the most effective method for preventing influenza virus infection and its potentially severe complications. A large proportion of the Hong Kong elderly population has not undergone influenza vaccination. An exploration of the correlates will provide significant information to help identify ways of improving vaccination uptake among Chinese elderly people.

Objectives –
To explore the prevalence and correlates of influenza vaccination Hong Kong Chinese elderly people aged 65 or above. To investigate any differences in attitudes toward influenza vaccination among Hong Kong elderly people with different levels of cognitive and physical functioning.

Design –
An exploratory cross-sectional survey with two objective assessments was employed.

Settings –
Fifteen elderly centers in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Participants –
A total of 816 Hong Kong Chinese elderly participants were recruited.

Methods –
Face-to-face interviews were adopted to explore the demographic characteristics, perceptions, health status, knowledge, and resources of, and the influence of disease outbreaks on, influenza vaccination. Two objective validated instruments, the Chinese Mini-Mental State Examination (CMMSE) and the Barthel Index-Modified Chinese Version (MCBI) were used to assess the cognitive status and physical functioning of the participants.

Results –
Approximately two in three individuals (62.4%) had undergone influenza vaccination. Lower cognitive and physical functioning scores were found among the non-vaccinated participants. Multivariate logistic regression analyzes revealed the significant correlates associated with influenza vaccination to be consideration of vaccination in the subsequent years (aOR=7.877; p<0.001); consideration of vaccination if all people aged 65 or above were eligible to receive free vaccination (aOR=3.024; p=0.002); the belief that there is a need to receive influenza vaccination following the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza (aOR=2.413; p=0.001); receiving advice from nursing staff of elderly centers (aOR=7.161; p<0.001); the medical staff of elderly centers (aOR=3.771; p<0.001) or family members or friends (aOR=3.023; p=0.001).

Conclusions –
The prevalence of elderly Chinese people undergoing influenza vaccination remains suboptimal. The government can promote vaccination by educating the public about the advantages, by publicizing locations where vaccinations are available, and having nursing, other medical staff, family and friends encourage elderly people to be vaccinated. A high vaccination coverage rate must be ensured to achieve international goals.

* with an impact factor ranked second in both SCI and SSCI in Nursing