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This paper examines influenza vaccine coverage rates (VCR) in Poland and Sweden during the 2003/4 and 2004/5 influenza seasons. An average sample of 2,500 persons was interviewed in each country and each season. Questions regarded age and possible chronic diseases, as well as information on whether they had had an influenza vaccination in the given season. Those who had not received the vaccine were also asked to give reasons for non-vaccination. About one in four (Sweden) to one in three (Poland) of the persons surveyed belonged to high-risk groups (>=65 years of age or suffering from chronic diseases). In the 2004/5 season, 17% (CI 12-19%) of the Polish elderly and 45% (CI 39-50%) of the Swedish elderly were vaccinated. In Poland, 9% (CI 7-12%) of respondents younger than 65 years of age with a chronic condition were vaccinated, whereas in Sweden the corresponding rate was 12% (CI 9-16%). In both countries, the VCR did not change significantly from the previous season. Personal invitations resulted in a higher VCR. In Sweden, the most frequently mentioned reasons for not being vaccinated were the assumption of not qualifying for a vaccination and perceived resistance. In Poland in both years, perceived resistance to flu and the cost of the vaccination were the most often mentioned reasons. The influenza vaccination rates in Poland and Sweden remain far below World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for the high-risk population. No increase in VCR as demonstrated in this study may indicate that these two countries will not be able to meet the 2010 WHO target, if no further action is taken concerning vaccine uptake.


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