Year of Publication

2015

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Corrine Williams, Sc.D.

Committee Member

Mark Swanson, PhD

Committee Member

Kathryn Cardarelli, PhD

Abstract

Introduction: Vaccinations help to prevent deleterious diseases or lessen their side effects, saving millions in healthcare expenditures. While we associate most vaccinations with children, there are specific vaccinations that are indicated in the elderly. The shingles, or herpes zoster, vaccination is indicated in all adults over the age of 50 years of age to prevent the development of or lessen the severity of shingles – the re­‐emergence of chickenpox in the form of painful blisters on the body, however, statistics indicate that only around 20% of the indicated population has ever received that vaccination. Why have so few been vaccinated? This study examined what predictors of socioeconomic status affect vaccination rates as socioeconomic status is a key player in vaccination behavior in the United States.

Methods: A cross-­‐sectional descriptive study using data from the National Health Interview Survey of 2013 was conducted using χ2 tests to determine how some of the key determiners of socioeconomic status -­‐ income, education, and insurance -­‐ affect shingles vaccination rates among adults over the age of 50. Other variables examined were race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, history of chickenpox, and history of pneumonia vaccination.

Results: After conducting multiple cross-­‐sectional analyses using χ2 tests, results indicate that socioeconomic status as defined by income, education, and insurance coverage does influence shingles vaccination rates. As income and education increase, reported vaccination rates also increase.

Conclusion: Public health practitioners need to find ways to overcome the significant barriers in education and income that currently exist that are preventing adults from receiving the shingles vaccination in order to improve health outcomes.

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