The rate of vaccination in the previous year is the factor that best predicts the number of people to be vaccinated in a new campaign, as evidenced by the findings of the thesis presented in November 2011 by Elena Herrero Selma, student from the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló. The study also concludes that a significant percentage of people who should be vaccinated against this disease do not get vaccinated, and that a reminding letter post is effective for improving vaccination but only in a limited way.
Elena Herrero was the first student to defend her doctoral thesis in the medicine area at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Universitat Jaume I. The thesis Impacto de una estrategia educativa sobre la cumplimentación de la vacunación contra la gripe [Impact of an educational strategy on completion of vaccination against influenza], directed by the Dr. Bernardino Roca Villanueva, chief of Internal Medicine at the General Hospital in Castelló and lecturer at the UJI, has obtained the grade of excellent cum laude.
Doctor Herrero's research is one the broader randomized and controlled study performed in Spain and one of the largest worldwide. It compares two equal-sized groups of people over 60 years randomly selected in urban health centers: some of them received a personalized letter to remind them vaccination and others didn't receive that letter. The analysis of the results showed that personalized information influenced the increase in vaccinations, but that the most effective measure was to have been immunized the previous year.
The study recommends the planning and execution of strategies to increase vaccination rates, in order to prevent diseases such as influenza and to improve morbidity and mortality associated with it, getting a decrease in health spending. The first action would be responsibility of the primary care doctor, who is the first responsible for primary prevention and, therefore, for the vaccination of the general population.
Human influenza is a viral infection that is an important public health problem. Its extent and intensity varies from year to year and geographic location. Each winter season it affects between 5 and 20% of the Spanish population. According to data from the Spanish National Epidemiology Center, each year more than three million people suffer from it, which represents about 8 000 people per 100 000 inhabitants.
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