Evidence-based programs and policies to improve vaccine uptake are necessary for both caregivers and the general public because influenza vaccine coverage remains low for both groups.
The rates of influenza vaccination were not significantly different between caregivers and non-caregivers, however, vaccine coverage remained low in both groups, according to the results of a study in Preventing Chronic Disease.1 Investigators added that programs and policies to improve vaccine uptake are necessary for both caregivers and the general public.1
Caregivers provide aid or assistance to family member or friends who have health conditions or disabilities and need help with daily activities, such as medication management, moving, bathing, and feeding.1 In a 2020 report by the American Association of Retired Persons, approximately 53 million adults were caregivers to either adults or children within the past year of the report, resulting in approximately 1 in 5 American adults being caregivers.2
The study authors said that caregivers may experience “caregiver burden,” which is defined as “any negative impact or suffering perceived by the caregiver and may occur in the physical, emotional, social, financial, or spiritual domains.” Due to these feelings, the caregiver could neglect their self-care and their health, according to investigators.
In the study, the authors aimed to determine the prevalence of influenza vaccinations among caregivers and the general population, hypothesizing that they would have a lower prevalence of vaccination.1
Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2016 to 2018 were used, including 154,170 respondents from 27 states and the District of Columbia. A bivariate analysis was used to determine the difference in flu vaccination uptake among both groups, as well as logistic regression to estimate the differences based on various characteristics.1
Of the 154,170 individuals in the study, approximately 20.5% were caregivers. Approximately 19% of individuals were aged 65 years or older and 13% were aged 18 to 24 years. More than half of the individuals (59%) were non-Hispanic White, 20% were Hispanic or Latinx, and 11% were non-Hispanic Black. Additionally, more than half (55.6%) of the individuals were female and 52.3% were married.1
Investigators found that caregivers were more likely to have fair or poor self-health status, be female, have a partner, and have at least a high school diploma when compared to those who were not caregivers.1 Approximately 36% of all individuals received an influenza vaccination within the past 12 months, but there was no difference in the prevalence due to caregiver status; however, the study authors did report that women were more likely to receive a vaccine than men.1
Although caregiver status did not impact the rates of influenza vaccine, other health-related and sociodemographic variables were significantly related to vaccination. Investigators reported that those who were aged 65 years or older, female, married, and had a household income of $50,000 or more were more likely to receive the vaccine within the past year.1 Additionally, those who were non-Hispanic Black had 30% lower odds of receiving the vaccination compared to non-Hispanic White individuals.1
The study authors found that in a regression model of just caregivers, the weekly hours, duration of caregiving, and caregiving relationship did not impact the likelihood of receiving the vaccine. Further, there was no difference in influenza vaccination for those who cared for individuals with a higher risk of severe flu complications compared to those without the higher risk. The health-related and sociodemographic variables for caregivers were similar to the results of the caregiver and general population findings.1
Although investigators noted that the influenza vaccination should be higher for the caregiver population when compared to the general public, better programs and policies to increase vaccine coverage are needed and should be considered a public health priority.1