The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s conference coverage from the 2017 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ meeting in Las Vegas. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading PAs in many specialty areas. Check back for the latest news from AAPA 2017. 

LAS VEGAS ─ A healthcare provider’s recommendation is the strongest factor in influencing an elderly person’s decision to become vaccinated, much greater than media influence, according to results of a survey presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) 2017 conference.

Researchers administered the survey to persons living throughout New York City and Long Island between February and November 2016. Survey responders included those who were aged 65 years and older, those who received at least one influenza, pneumococcal, or shingles vaccination, those who were able to speak, read, and write in English, and those who were oriented to person, place, and time. Exclusion criteria included those who were not able to make their own medical decisions and those who were required to be vaccinated by place of residence or employer.

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A total of 301 surveys were completed, 231 of which were included for subsequent analysis. A majority of responders received the flu (91.3%) or pneumonia (79.2%) vaccine, compared with 43% who received the shingles vaccine. Across all demographics, “healthcare provider recommendation” to be vaccinated had the strongest impact (77.5%), followed by having a history of the disease (55%), and knowing someone else who had that disease (48.1%). Those aged 74 years and older were more likely to be positively influenced to receive vaccines by family members, friends, and media reminders than were younger responders. The investigators found no statistically significant differences in the motivations to vaccinate based on gender, race, or education level.

“Although, the overall impact by the media was low, it was clear from the data that media reminders marginally influenced participants age 74 and over,” stated Nathalie Phillips PA-S, and colleagues. “Given the value the elderly population places on provider recommendation, clinicians can increase the number of immunized patients age 65 and older by prioritizing the importance of receiving the pneumococcal, the herpes zoster, and a yearly influenza vaccine.”

AAPA 2017 continues through Friday, May 19th. Visit for more information.


  1. Phillips N, Leibowitz SR, Rampersad N, Bowers C, Jackson D. Denying the grim reaper: Why do the elderly choose to get vaccinated? Presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2017 conference; May 15-19, 2017; Las Vegas.