About 8 out of 10 older Australians were vaccinated against the flu in 2002, according to survey results released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Out of 2.4 million Australians aged 65 and over, 1.9 million were vaccinated against the flu last year.
A further 1.1 million (about 20%) of Australians aged 40-64 years were also vaccinated.
Men aged 65 years and over were less likely than their female counterparts to be vaccinated against the flu-a result that held across all States and Territories.
The report, 2002 Influenza Vaccine Survey: Summary Results, was carried out as part of an evaluation of the National Influenza Vaccination Program for Older Australians. The Program is a Commonwealth Government initiative designed to help reduce the impact of influenza, which hospitalises more than 2,500 Australians every year.
Seven out of ten Australians aged 65 years and over received free influenza vaccinations last year through the Program. A further 1 out of 10 were not vaccinated through the Program.
The survey involved 8,000 participants across Australia, interviewed during October 2002-at the end of the winter flu season.
People aged 40 years and over were asked whether they had been vaccinated against the flu, whether they had received the vaccine for free or had paid for it, and if they had any of the risk factors for flu infection or its complications.
More than 60% of all vaccinations (40 years and over) occurred during March and April.
Of Australians aged 40-64 years with risk factors for influenza (diabetes or circulatory, immunosupressive or pulmonary disorders), some 42% were vaccinated.
'What's more, 37% of people who care for older people or those with risk factors for influenza had been vaccinated,' said report author, David Batts.
'The high vaccination coverage rate for people over 65 years helps to reduce the burden of more intensive health services and deaths resulting from complications of the disease.'