Most North Central Texas residents planned to get flu shots this year, UNT survey says

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Health professionals say it's not too late to get a flu shot, and that message seems to resonate with people in North Central Texas. More than half the residents in four counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are planning to get the vaccine by January, according to a new survey conducted by the University of North Texas Survey Research Center.

The center contacted 1,200 people in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties in October and November. Fifty-five percent of those who responded said they planned to get a flu vaccination for themselves by January. Similarly, 64 percent of the respondents with children plan to get their children vaccinated. The results were similar among respondents from the four counties.

Paul Ruggiere, director of UNT's Survey Research Center, says older respondents were more likely to report their intent to get a flu vaccination than younger respondents.

"Forty-five percent of the respondents age 18 to 45 planned to get a flu vaccination, compared to 63 percent of the respondents over age 45," he says.

While this question measures intent to get a flu vaccination, Ruggiere points out that there's no way to know if people will follow through.

"Historically, a much smaller percentage actually gets a flu vaccination. My understanding from several public health professionals is that the demand for flu shots this year has been very light so far," he says.

That sentiment is confirmed by Betsy Haggard with the Denton County Health Department, who says the department staff has seen a decrease in the number of residents vaccinated through the department this year as opposed to previous years.

"In Denton County, we traditionally see the majority of our flu cases in February, so to ensure that their families are protected, we encourage residents to be vaccinated now," she says.

The flu vaccination questions were asked as part of the "Metroplex Survey," an annual telephone survey of 1,200 North Central Texas residents. Telephone interviews were conducted from the Survey Research Center, a call center on the UNT campus in Denton, between Oct. 3 and Nov. 19. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

The sample was stratified to include 300 respondents from Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties for a total of 1,200 respondents. Ruggiere says when reporting results of the area as a whole, the data was weighted to account for differences in population, race and ethnicity.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108