Objective. To evaluate the impact of the 2002–2003 recommendation to “encourage when feasible” the influenza vaccine for healthy children 6 to 23 months of age.
Methods. A cross-sectional study of children who were 6 to 59 months of age and presented to a large, pediatric resident's continuity clinic or the affiliated acute care clinic in the summers of 2002 and 2003 was performed. The influenza vaccination status of children in the winter before enrollment and factors that influenced this status were determined by parental questionnaire.
Results. Of 245 and 329 children in the 2002 and 2003 study populations, influenza vaccinations increased from 7% to 18%, respectively. For healthy children 6 to 23 months of age, influenza vaccinations increased from 1% in 2002 to 17% in 2003 and accounted for most of the increase seen in the study population. Multivariate analysis revealed that the strongest predictor of pediatric influenza vaccination was parental recall of a physician recommendation (odds ratio: 39.3; 95% confidence interval: 17.3-89.4 in 2003). However, 65% of parents of high-risk children did not recall a physician recommendation despite the fact that the influenza vaccine was recommended for high-risk patients during both study years.
Conclusion. Concomitant with the 2002-2003 influenza vaccine recommendation for healthy children 6 to 23 months of age, influenza vaccinations for these children increased significantly. Because most children for whom the influenza vaccine was recommended were not vaccinated, physicians have the opportunity to increase the pediatric influenza vaccination rate by improving their recommendation strategies.