TUESDAY, Nov. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Only half of Medicare beneficiaries aged 19 years and older are vaccinated for influenza, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Bo-Hyun Cho, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 31.6 million U.S. adults continuously enrolled under Medicare Parts A and B to examine influenza vaccine uptake and missed opportunities for vaccination.

The researchers found that 50.5 percent of beneficiaries aged 19 years or older had Medicare claims for influenza vaccination: 31.6 and 54 percent were aged 19 to 64 years and 65 years or older, respectively. More White than Black or Hispanic beneficiaries were vaccinated (52.9 versus 34.9 and 30.4 percent, respectively). Beneficiaries with versus those without high-risk conditions had higher uptake (56.1 versus 27.6 percent). Overall, 77.4 percent of the unvaccinated beneficiaries visited a provider during influenza season; 91 and 43 percent of unvaccinated beneficiaries with and without high-risk conditions, respectively, had seen a provider at least once. The proportion of beneficiaries with missed opportunities for influenza vaccination was 44.2 percent and was higher for those without versus those with high-risk conditions (59.1 versus 42.2 percent).

“A comprehensive strategy centered on evidence-based interventions that leverages all medical and pharmacy visits as opportunities for vaccination will be required to increase vaccination coverage and maximize the benefit of this preventive health tool in the Medicare population,” the authors write.

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