Older adults are more likely to ask for vaccine if they know someone with shingles

October 14, 2013

Personal knowledge of or experience with shingles may be a major driver in a consumer's decision about whether to receive the shingles vaccine, according to a Merck-sponsored survey.

 

Personal knowledge of or experience with shingles may be a major driver in a consumer's decision about whether to receive the shingles vaccine, according to a Harris Interactive consumer awareness survey sponsored by Merck.

The survey was conducted online in the United States September 10-12, 2013, among 668 adults aged 60 years and older.

The survey found that adults who reported being familiar with the experience of a friend or family member who had developed shingles were more likely to feel that shingles is “very” or “extremely” serious than were respondents those unacquainted with a shingles patient (65% vs. 47%, respectively). In addition, more than half (53%) of those who knew someone who had had shingles said they would be at least somewhat likely to ask their healthcare professional about shingles vaccination, compared to the 43% of those without a friend or family member who had experienced shingles.

Additional key findings include:

• More than 25% believe they are at risk for developing shingles, as compared to arthritis (60%), heart disease/heart problems (49%), cancer (43%), stroke (43%), diabetes (35%), and Alzheimer’s disease (34%).

• While 41% of adults surveyed are at least somewhat worried about their risk for shingles (vs. 47% worried about their risk for flu), they are 26% less likely to ask their healthcare professionals about ways to help prevent shingles than they are likely to ask about ways to help prevent flu (50% shingles vs. 68% flu).

• While 41% (271/668) of adults who participated in the survey are at least somewhat worried about their risk for pneumonia, they are 21% less likely to ask their healthcare professional about ways to help prevent pneumonia than ways to help prevent flu (54% pneumonia vs 68% flu).

•  Although more likely to ask their healthcare professionals about ways to help prevent influenza than about ways to help prevent pneumonia this year, respondents were almost twice as likely to report a perception of pneumonia as “extremely” or “very” serious as they were to report the same perception of flu (70% to 38% respectively).

“Many of the respondents [79%] said they would rely on a recommendation from their healthcare provider in deciding to get the shingles vaccine,” said Eddy Bresnitz, MD, executive director, global medical affairs and policy, Merck Vaccines Division. “Results of this survey are a clear call to action for healthcare providers to have a discussion with their eligible patients 60 and older about getting the shingles vaccine.”

“While the shingles vaccine is well positioned from a formulary standpoint, there can be some confusion around cost and coverage for both healthcare providers and patients,” said Dr. Bresnitz. “For example, patients with Medicare Part D are generally covered in the pharmacy and those with private insurance are generally covered in the physician clinic. When the pathway is not followed properly, it causes confusion and frustration, and creates a negative perception of reimbursement. Also, whether reimbursement is available for a specific patient and the out-of-pocket expenses borne by the patient, whether they are covered by Medicare Part D or private insurance, depends on their age, insurance plan, and benefit design.”

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