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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida International: Researcher Looks at Mass Media Coverage and influenza vaccine uptake

Mass media, as a leading source of health information for the public, can influence and promote health behaviors, such as vaccination. Each year, the flu virus becomes a hot topic for media. A researcher at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work studied the effect of media coverage on vaccine uptake.

“People are exposed to influenza vaccination campaigns and various news coverage in every flu season. We are curious about to what extent the media coverage on influenza is associated with people’s decision to get the flu shot,” said Dr. Weiwei Chen, principal investigator on the study and assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

Despite the high risk and economic burden of influenza-related diseases, about one-third of adults aged 65 and older still forego annual influenza vaccination.

“We measured the influenza-related media coverage by month and across seasons and examined the effect on influenza vaccination among the elderly,” Dr. Chen continued. “The elderly are among the most vulnerable populations during flu season and we wanted to know if the media message was translating into action.”

The main results suggest that relationship between the number of news reports covering influenza and seasonal vaccination uptake is largely positive. The positive relationship is mainly driven by reports in seasons with a good match between circulating strains and those covered by the vaccine and in seasons with late peaks in influenza activity.

This study was done in partnership with Charles Stoecker of Tulane University.

Read full study.


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