Influenza vaccine uptake and distribution in England and Wales using data from the General Practice Research Database, 1989/90-2003/04

Carol Joseph*, Nichola Goddard, David Gelb

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Routinely collected data from patients registered with general practices participating in the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) were used to analyse influenza vaccine uptake and distribution in England and Wales between 1989/90 and 1996/97. Major changes to influenza immunization policy were introduced in 1998 and 2000 when immunization of the elderly became age related rather than risk related. This new study examines trends in vaccine uptake for high- and low-risk patients and the impact of the policy changes on uptake in the elderly. Methods: Between 0.5 and 2.7 million patients registered with practices participating in the GPRD from 1989 to 2004 were included. Data were examined by age group, medical risk group and evidence of vaccination per study year. Results: Vaccine uptake among high-risk persons aged 65 or more increased from 36.7 per cent in 1989/90 to 72.1 per cent in 2003/04. For the same period, uptake rates for high-risk persons under 65 years increased from 10.8 to 24.3 per cent. For those at high risk, uptake by females was higher in all age groups up to 65 years. Of those that were vaccinated, a higher proportion of the 65 and over were vaccinated in October each year compared with the high risk under 65 (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Coverage among high-risk patients in younger age groups continues to fall well below satisfactory levels, especially among the youngest groups. Government policy should now focus on ways to improve uptake in these patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)371-377
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Public Health
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    The GPRD was set up in 1987 by VAMP Health Ltd. to collect pharmaco-epidemiological information from a sample of GP records. Since then the database has been managed by a series of government agencies. It was validated as a surveillance tool by the Office for National Statistics in 1994 and passed to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for further development and management in 1999. We are grateful to ONS and MHRA for preparation of data and the Department of Health for funding the purchase of the data for this study. We are also grateful to Gagori Bandopadhyay for administrative support of the updated data and to Suzanne Elgohari for preparation of the 65s and over uptake data in the DH national monitoring scheme.


    • Immunization
    • Influenza
    • Risk groups
    • Vaccine uptake


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