If you need a flu shot, you may want to ask your doctor to make the appointment for you as according to a recent study, asking patients to schedule their own appointments doesn't work.
A Rutgers University study found that doctors, who take a proactive stance and schedule flu shots for patients, can dramatically up vaccination rates.
Researchers reported that patients are three times more likely to get vaccinations when their physicians make appointments than when they are invited to make the appointments themselves.
"Vaccination is the single most important thing to do to prevent communicative diseases, and not nearly enough people get vaccinated," said lead author Gretchen Chapman. "Prescheduled appointments are a simple intervention that clinics can use to increase vaccination rates."
The vaccine administered in the study was for viral influenza - a disease against which doctors recommend patients be vaccinated annually.
To conduct their study, researchers divided the 886 patients at a medical practice into three groups. They found that 16 percent of the patients who had appointments made for them showed up for the vaccine, while only 5 percent of those who were invited to make their own appointments did so. Only 2 percent of those who got no instructions showed up for vaccinations.
Chapman and her co-authors also found that the "displacement effect" - the moving of vaccinations from one venue to another - didn't happen. Getting doctors' offices to take the extra step to reduce the risks of influenza could get more people vaccinated.
"Every year, the particular group of viruses is mutable, keeps modifying genetically, so the shot you got last year may not work this year," said researcher Elaine Leventhal.
The study is published in the journal Behavioral Science and Policy. (ANI)