Education Affects Troops’ Desire for Avian Flu Vaccine

SILVER SPRING, MD — How willing would deployed U.S. military personnel be to receive a hypothetical avian influenza vaccine?

That is the question the Naval Medical Research Center’s Enteric Diseases Department sought to answer with a survey. The results were published recently in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. 1

The researchers noted that no avian influenza vaccine currently exists, but that development efforts have increased.

“Given recent reports of suboptimal vaccination rates among U.S, military personnel, we sought to assess factors associated with a willingness to receive a hypothetical avian influenza vaccine,” the authors wrote.

Servicemembers — predominately male (86.2%), Army (72.1%), and enlisted (86.3%) with a mean age of 29.6 — completed a self-administered questionnaire during mid-deployment to Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding regions.

Results indicated that a majority, 77.1%, agreed to receive an avian influenza vaccine if available.

Understanding two factors, vaccine importance and disease risk, was associated with an increased willingness to receive the hypothetical vaccine (OR: 8.2 and 1.6, respectively). In fact, after controlling for these factors, no differences in the willingness to receive this hypothetical vaccine were observed across gender and branch of service, according to the results.

“These results indicated that targeted education on vaccine safety and efficacy as well as disease risk may modify vaccination patterns in this population,” the authors pointed out.

1 Porter CK, Fitamaurice G, Tribble DR, Armstrong AW, Mostafa M, Riddle MS. Willingness to Receive a Hypothetical Avian Influenza Vaccine Among U.S. Military Personnel in Mid-Deployment. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013 Aug 5;9(12). [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23917256.

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