Response to the 2004-2005 influenza vaccine shortage in veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders and their providers

Charlesnika T. Evans*, Sherri L. LaVela, Bridget Smith, Carolyn Wallace, Barry Goldstein, Frances M. Weaver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background/Objectives: To assess patient and provider behaviors regarding influenza vaccination, diagnosis, and testing strategies and the availability of influenza vaccine during the 2004-2005 nationwide influenza vaccine shortage. Design/Methods: Multisite, anonymous, cross-sectional surveys of patients and providers and qualitative interviews after the 2004-2005 influenza season. Setting: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities with spinal cord injury centers or clinics. Participants: Stratified random sample of 3,958 veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI&D; 31% response rate), 177 providers who treat persons with SCI&D, and 17 key informants. Results: Most patient respondents (96.1%) reported awareness of a vaccine shortage (n = 938). When asked whether the shortage affected their ability to get the vaccine, 64.8% said they had no problem, whereas 12.1% reported an inability to get the vaccine. The vaccination rate was 71.8%; most veterans received the vaccine early (October-November) at the VA, and vaccination rates increased with age (P < 0.0001). Although vaccine shortages were reported by 47.5% of provider survey respondents (n = 177), most reported that the vaccine shortage did not affect availability of vaccine for patients with SCI&D. Few clinicians conducted diagnostic tests for influenza more often than in past years (4.9%). Although providers reported shortages at 12 centers (n = 23), patients with SCI&D had priority at 11 of 12 centers. Conclusions: Most patients were aware of the vaccine shortage, and the vaccination rate remained high and comparable with previous years. VA providers and facilities targeted SCI&D as a high-risk group and prioritized use of the limited vaccine supply for them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Health care workers
  • Influenza
  • Prevention
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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